04 September 2004

DSL Strangelove

(or how I learned to stop worrying and love the RBOC)

I’ve spent a few hours shopping for high-speed internet service for our home again. It’s not that the existing service is particularly broken, it’s just that right now we’re paying $66 per month for 512k/256k DSL with one static IP address. This class of service is available for less half the price with any other phone company in the state. As such, I try to look around from time to time to see if anyone new happens to be offering service in our area. A better deal is bound to pop up sooner or later. Shopping for this might be easier if I didn’t want to host my own content, like this page you are looking at right now, but hosting elsewhere costs more and puts some limits on what I can do.

The folks at Comcast refuse to offer a static IP address at any price. They also are a bit reluctant to give information about prices for any of their services on their web site, which leads me to think that they are embarassingly high. There is a surcharge for the internet access if you don’t get cable TV service from them, and frankly they can peel our DirecTiVo from our cold, dead hands. They want $56 per month for 3M/256k, there’s also an install fee since there isn’t Comcast coax to our house right now.

Our friendly neighborhood Bell operating company has recently upgraded to offering better bandwidth than they did previously. There is now 1.5M/256k service for $55 per month. Unfortunately they still want an additional $20 per month for a single static IP address. As I said earlier, the reliability of the connection has been fairly good versus the anecdotal evidence I’ve heard from Comcast customers. However, when it does go down, they tend not to fess up to it on their support page, which is rather annoying coming from a position where I’m required to report and quantify that sort of downtime.

This local company bought my parent’s dialup ISP, Connect Northwest, some time ago. They advertised pretty heavily on local radio for a good long while and have been offering service nationally of late. They’re offering 1.5M/384k for $50 per month, with a static IP for an extra $5. Or at least that is what they think they’re offering; the salesman I spoke to on the phone couldn’t get information about supported speeds on my line. Odds are that this problem, was in fact, CenturyTel’s fault. He suggested that I call CenturyTel and find out from them what the line will support. Their reviews seem pretty favorable online.

Is there noone else?
Somehow there are only these three choices for land-based non-dialup internet here. Of course the lack of any significant competition goes a long ways to explaining why CenturyTel and Comcast get away with charging such exorbitant prices for their high-speed internet services. In a conversation with a sales tech at Blarg that I had a year or two ago, he told a story about the lineworkers from CenturyTel intentionally destroying competitors’ equipment at the CO. Pretty appalling stuff.

It looks like Isomedia will be a $10 per month savings with significantly more bandwidth at least on the download side. The downside will be the coordination required to get all my resources moved over. I’ll have to have our DNS root records updated and arrange some backup hosting for DNS and email while the switchover happens. Which makes me wonder if the hassle involved will be worth the $10…

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