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User Journal

Journal Degrees's Journal: Bye bye Comcast, hello AT&T (long) 5

I haven't been happy with Comcast. Well, duh. In this JE, I'll list some thoughts, and then explain them later.

Back in May, a Comcast salesperson cold-called me, trying to pitch their VoIP solution. I said I'd more likely just cancel Comcast altogether, because of Sandvine. I went looking on the DirectTV web site to see if they had a solution that works with my ReplayTVs. DirectTV recently bought ReplayTV - so if anyone had a compatible system, it should be them. No joy. A few days later, a salesperson from AT&T Yahoo! cold-called me, asking if I wanted to save money on my monthly bill.

Okie dokie.

The Good

  • I should be saving about $44 per month.

  • Comcast gets $100 less per month revenue, for Sandvine, and for taking away the Hallmark channel and C-SPAN 2

  • I get to leave behind Crutchfield and Bloomingdales spam.

  • I should be able to get my Linux .iso's via bittorrent without my ISP taking a poop on me.

The Bad

  • Installing the DSL modem was harder than it ought to have been.

  • Comcast gave me a basic home web page with not a whole lot of storage on it - but it was free. AT&T Yahoo! says 'go talk to Geocities'. Geocities says they will surround the page with advertisements. Great - just what I want around my resume.

  • I've had to go to every web page where I have a login, and change the email address. That was a lot of work.

  • I was an early cable modem user (MediaOne --> ATTBI --> Comcast), so my main email address was just my last name (surname) @comcast.net
    Since I'm late to the DSL game, that email address was already taken.

  • The Dish Network DVR Model 625 has some pretty inferior software. But then, I'm comparing it to the best DVR out there: ReplayTV.

The Ugly

  • I'm giving up my ReplayTVs.


The DSL will be $25 per month less, with a slower connection. That's fine, I hardly ever needed max speed anyway. $24 per month comes from stopping service on the ReplayTVs. My wife wanted the local OTA channels, so that lowers the savings $5.

Comcast took away the Hallmark channel and C-SPAN2 to try to pressure us into upgrading to digital cable. My ReplayTVs are analog, and tune directly to the analog signal. Putting a box in between means an ugly infrared remote spoofer, and a delay in changing channels as the set-top box syncs, then decodes. It also means Comcast can harvest my channel changing behaviors for their marketing department. For this, they want to increase my monthly price? Goodbye. The conversion to digital is supposed to free up bandwidth for them - they should be giving me a discount to put up with the inferior system, instead of charging me money for it. And of course, the whole Sandvine thing ticks me off.

I bought one thing from Crutchfield, and man did I get a ton of spam from them. I've clicked their unsubscribe link - but that should just be a link to a .wav file of Nelson from The Simpsons. I don't know how, but Bloomingdales got a hold of a different email address - one I would never use for e-commerce - and they regularly spam me there. Thunderbird doesn't understand that 100 * Junk should equal "Yes, it's junk". So I'll just let those old email addresses take care of the problem with 550 No such recipient.

As per my JE listed at the top - I like the idea of helping my Linux provider by using my paid subscription to subsidize the distribution of the .iso files. My Cisco 800 router isn't particularly good at it, but still, that should be my choice, not my ISP's. Who is paying whom?

So the DSL modem comes with a CD that SBC / AT&T / Yahoo! wants me to run. Of course, I have zero idea of what sort of programs are on it, and what sort of toolbars and spyware and junk are on there. I don't trust it. I'm impressed though, that the root of the CD (opened in Linux of course!) is a file title "ManualSetup.html". It says that manual installation is easy. Cool!

Well, not. The documentation does not match reality. I'm a fan of the Share The Pain, so if you can't give me correct instructions, I'm going to make you pay for it. In this case, a telephone call to a human being, who explains that the IP address is no longer per the manual, but per who the heck knows, but we weren't about to discard a couple hundred obsolete CDs, because you know, telephone agents are so cheap now-a-days, and having something just work isn't going to impress the new customers.

It gets a little weirder though. I get the DSL modem connected to their registration server. Now I need to create my user account. Wizard next next... eventually, the web page fails with an error in the middle, referring to failed java server code. Well, I am using Firefox on Linux. Maybe that's just too far out in left field. I try Firefox on Windows. Same error. OK, I create a new Windows user on the laptop (intended lifespan: ten minutes) that is directly connected to the DSL modem. I crank up IE on Windows. Wizard next next... and the web page fails at the same place, with the same error. Looking at the web page source code, I see it is generated by Websphere. We have a large Websphere app at work. Reliable is not it's middle name. I give up for the night - maybe they will fix it by morning. Next morning, I use my Comcast connected main Linux box, and the web page works fine. My account is created, using Firefox on Linux, from outside their network. Have to go to work now, but things are looking better - maybe they fixed their Websphere.

Back from work, I hook up the DSL modem. It doesn't connect yet. Hit the web page again. It fails again, with the same error in the same place.

Time to share the pain again. Telephone support on hold music (blather really) had some sort of beat frequency going on that I could only hear one half second of spoken voice for every three seconds of time. Anyway, the person is courteous, and very carefully walks me through all the steps I went through before. Then was stymied when it failed exactly the same way as before. Thankfully, she knew what the results were supposed to be: change the login string the DSL modem will use to authenticate. We manually do this, which is apparently what the whole IE browser launched code was supposed to configure, if we had ever gotten that far.

So to recap: Firefox on Linux from Comcast did handle the page OK, but IE on Windows from inside the AT&T network barfed all over itself. Anything inside the AT&T network barfed all over itself.


Well, at least it works now.

Over the next five days, I get six telemarketing calls from AT&T, asking if I want to upgrade the speed of my DSL.

On the seventh day, I get a phone call from AT&T, asking if I want to convert to AT&T DSL - because it's so much better than whatever I'm using now, don't you know. At least the girl is nice about it, and promises to take me off the list. She must have, because I haven't gotten another call from them. I did get a call from Comcast though. It ticks me off, when the sales rep starts the call with "We want to know why you left", but at the first opportunity switches to "have we got a sweet deal for you (to return)."

DSL speed: started out pretty darn slow. DSL Reports says I have 256 Kbps up and down. The salesman said I was signing up for 768 up / 1540 down. A call to AT&T technical support changed nothing - and they shifted the blame to my inside wiring. That might be fair - my house is old, and the phone wire is not twisted pair. I did find that the wires in my MPOE were curled into a loop about the size of my thumb. Once I uncurled them, (running them around the edge of the box), my DSL speeds increased to ~ 1,200 Kbps down (but still only 250 Kbps up). I think I'd need to run Cat5 from the MPOE to the DSL modem to get the full speed. But 1,200 Kbps is enough.

Glasnost reports that they are not interfering with my bittorrent traffic. Good for them. They're a keeper.

The down side to the slow speed is that my morning routine is the 'open in tabs' all the bookmarks in my morning comics bookmarks folder. It's 50-60 different sites. On Comcast, they always came up. With the slow speed DSL, some of them time out, and I have to manually refresh them. For $300 per year, I'll live with it. ;-)

Dish Network PVR 625. Bleh. This deserves a journal entry itself. It's the worst thing about the transition.

And to pour a little salt on the wound, AT&T announced that their U-verse service just became available in my area a week ago. Damn them for not telling me to wait two months for it.

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Bye bye Comcast, hello AT&T (long)

Comments Filter:
  • Have you considered gmail for an account and google pages for hosting?

    The gmail account is great so you won't have to ever change your email address again. I only took 10 seconds to login to the google pages and make a really simple page, but it seems pretty easy for simple stuff.

  • by Chacham ( 981 )

    Good for you to switch. I did that a while ago.

A computer without COBOL and Fortran is like a piece of chocolate cake without ketchup and mustard.