Stephen Speicher

Advice wanted for Internet connection

18 posts in this topic

My internet connection (Adelphia cablemodem) was down, yet again, for an extended time. Since Adelphia's recent financial problems I see a progressive deterioration in the internet service they provide, though the cable service seems much less affected. I need to find an alternative.

I tried DSL, but even with special repeaters we are just too far from the source to get reliable and fast-enough service. Does anyone here use any satellite service, like DIRECWAY? Is wireless service, such as that offered through VERIZON, as equally fast as cablemodem or DSL? Any other alternatives?

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My internet connection (Adelphia cablemodem) was down, yet again, for an extended time. Since Adelphia's recent financial problems I see a progressive deterioration in the internet service they provide, though the cable service seems much less affected. I need to find an alternative.

I tried DSL, but even with special repeaters we are just too far from the source to get reliable and fast-enough service. Does anyone here use any satellite service, like DIRECWAY? Is wireless service, such as that offered through VERIZON, as equally fast as cablemodem or DSL? Any other alternatives?

I feel for you, Stephen. Just to get another suggestion into the mix: does anyone know about the possibility/affordability of getting a direct T1 line to one's residence, along the lines of what many businesses have? I would assume that such an option would be prohibitively expensive -- the prices I've heard were upwards of $300/month -- but perhaps someone more knowledgeable than myself could say more definitively whether this option could work for Stephen.

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If you are getting prices around $300/month for T1, you are being offered a better deal than I've ever seen.

I don't know much about satellite internet, but the most emphatic advice I can give you if you choose to get a new DSL provider is don't get Verizon. I had nothing but problems with them for a year straight, and know many, many other people who say the same thing. When I finally cancelled my service with them, it took another year for them to stop sending me bills. I lost count of the amount of my life wasted on hold while they shuffled me from person to person long ago.

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... if you choose to get a new DSL provider is don't get Verizon. I had nothing but problems with them for a year straight, and know many, many other people who say the same thing....

At this point I wish I could get DSL, but as I said I live on the fringe of DSL service availability. I just started looking into wireless internet service, and Verizon seems to be the one that provides that service in my area. So, I may not have a choice for wireless.

Speaking of which ... I was surprised to learn that Verizon wireless claims "average speeds of 400- 700 kbps, capable of bursts up to 2 Mbps," which is competitive with my (ever degrading) cablemodem service. Their website shows a two-year contract where you purchase a wireless pc card for $99, plus $20 activation, and $59.99 a month. I can get a USB adapter to use the wireless card in my desktop.

If there are no other alternatives, I think I will pursue that.

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Stephen, I'm not sure I can offer any alternatives for you here, but I should warn you that wireless is inherently unsecure, and that you will most likely need to use serious encryption. Make sure you seriously discuss this subject with the wireless providers, as that should be the feature that makes or breaks a service.

Oh, it just occurred to me that one alternative to all this is internet through sattelite (which shouldn't be a problem since you probably already have sattelite television anyway).

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Oh, it just occurred to me that one alternative to all this is internet through sattelite (which shouldn't be a problem since you probably already have sattelite television anyway).

One thing to consider about satellite internet is the very high packet latency. This isn't usually much of a problem when doing things like surfing the web or sending or receiving e-mail. But it can be a serious problem if you're trying to do something highly interactive, like run an application over X, a VPN tunnel, online gaming, chat, etc. Give careful consideration to your internet usage patterns before making a decision.

(I feel your pain, Stephen; I lived for 7 years in an apartment where I couldn't get cable modem service and the fastest DSL available was a 144kbit IDSL connection.)

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Thanks for all the responses.

It turns out that the Verizon cost is $79.99 a month on a two-year contract if you do not also have a voice contract with them. Twice what I pay now for a single one of our cablemodems, but well-worth the cost if it is fast and reliable.

I know some of you are using wireless internet on laptops. What download speeds are you actually seeing?

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Regarding the comment that wireless is inherently insecure, that is a comparison between apples and oranges (802.11a/b/g vs EV-DO). They are fundamentally different systems, and while the privacy mechanisms in wireless Ethernet leave much to be desired, EV-DO, the new data service that Sprint and Verizon are offering, has several mechanisms in place to prevent snooping.

In a similar fashion, it won't do any good to ask what speeds people see when using "wireless internet on laptops" since that term today almost always means some flavour of wireless Ethernet (802.11a/b/g), not EV-DO. While I have heard the same numbers Stephen mentioned, I don't have any firsthand knowledge about their accuracy, but I'm sure Google has the answer to that question. My educated guess is that you'll see actual performance of about 50% of what is advertised.

One thing I will add about EV-DO is that because it is very new, with Sprint and Verizon having only turned up their systems in the past few months, it is not very widely deployed yet, so if you get too far outside a major metropolitan area, you probably won't have EV-DO coverage. You will probably have CDMA 1xRTT service in such a case, but that will be much slower (64kbps or so). I recommend finding your prospective carrier's EV-DO coverage map and checking it carefully.

In a similar vein, I don't think I would expect perfect reliability out of such a service yet because it is so new. My company's customers are all rural cellular carriers, one of which has rolled out EV-DO, and let's just say that it hasn't been exactly flawless. I'm sure, though, that it will be great very soon.

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Thanks for the information, Sidney. You seem to know a lot about EV-DO, so perhaps you can answer a question. Right now Betsy has a router with a cablemodem connection and she networks the internet connection with a laptop and two desktops. Can she use the aircard to hook up to the router, just like she does with the cablemodem?

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You might want to try Speakeasy.net, Stephen, they're a DSL provider:

www.speakeasy.net

You enter your service address/phone # and they'll tell you if service is available and the maximum speed.

Routing the Verizon card wouldn't be as straightforward as using a router plugged into a cable/DSL modem. Since it's a PC card that plugs into a laptop (at least the one that I've heard about), it would require using the laptop with some software (e.g. Windows "internet connection sharing", which is built-in) as your router. Not so convenient and probably not very fast.

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You might want to try Speakeasy.net, Stephen, they're a DSL provider:

www.speakeasy.net

You enter your service address/phone # and they'll tell you if service is available and the maximum speed.

Thanks, but they just confirmed what I already knew, that I am on the fringe of DSL. They show it as not available but, as I mentioned earlier, I had a service try to get DSL to work with repeaters, but it was just too slow. Speakeasy does show T1 as available, starting at the price that Alex mentioned, $299.95 (I guess Alex rounded up to $300 :lol:). But in running their test I currently get almost half of the current top speed from the T1, at about 1/8 the price. (But, of course, reliability has now become a problem.)

Routing the Verizon card wouldn't be as straightforward as using a router plugged into a cable/DSL modem. Since it's a PC card that plugs into a laptop (at least the one that I've heard about), it would require using the laptop with some software (e.g. Windows "internet connection sharing", which is built-in) as your router. Not so convenient and probably not very fast.

I've been digging around on my own and I found this wonderful EV-DO forum. Loads of great information. There exist right now at least two EV-DO routers that work real well, just replacing Betsy's existing router. The routers range between $700-$1200. But, there is a new EV-DO router coming to market in the $200 range, with even more capabilities than the others. There is also talk of a USB EV-DO modem by Christmas. Looks like we are in the beginning of an explosion of technology as an offshoot of the Verizon-Sprint EV-DO services. Exciting times.

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I'll take a look at the EV-DO forum.

I have both Comcast cable and a high speed DSL, for different purposes, but what I really look forward to is the ready availability of fiber optic connections. I hear that Verizon is now pulling a lot of new fiber, both residentially and to businesses - their higher end service supposedly does 30 Mbps.

Ironically, not that long ago I read that there were only two major installations of "fiber to the curb" in the U.S. - in Orlando, Florida, and in Rochester, Indiana, where I spent a number of years of my childhood, a small city in Northern Indiana. Small, privately held, Rochester Telephone Company (www.rtc1.com) had the foresight to run fiber to everyone, for combined phone/internet/TV service, in order to stay competitive.

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I looked at the EV-DO forum and some related sites, interesting stuff. Since I currently have Cingular, not Verizon or Sprint, I did some investigation into their projected offerings. What I found is that they're implementing a competing technology, HSDPA, an update of UMTS. If you simply google HSDPA you get a number of useful sites about it. Dell will be offering a notebook with integrated HSDPA capabilities soon (link here).

DP and Dell will also offer systems with EV-DO capability built-in, apparently (link here).

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I looked at the EV-DO forum and some related sites, interesting stuff. Since I currently have Cingular, not Verizon or Sprint, I did some investigation into their projected offerings. What I found is that they're implementing a competing technology, HSDPA, an update of UMTS.

Noce to know that Cingular is involved. I too have my mobile phones with Cingular, so I would prefer to get the service through them. Unfortunately, I don't think I can wait until they make the HSDPA service available in Los Angeles.

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As was already said, sharing Internet access via an EV-DO laptop card to other computers is possible, but may or may not be straightforward depending on your exact situation. If you already have a router that talks to your cable modem and you're happy with that, if you need to get access to multiple machines, I would wait until you can get one of those that can talk EV-DO.

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My internet connection (Adelphia cablemodem) was down, yet again, for an extended time.

I, too, had an unreliable Adelphia connection for the better part of the last year. So unreliable that I was looking for alternatives, including satellite. A visit by a technician ruled out the modem. He thought some poor wiring was the culprit and he switched around a couple of connections. This temporarily fixed the problem. As it happens, my upstairs neighbors moved out recently, and now my internet connection is working 100%. Hmmmm.

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I, too, had an unreliable Adelphia connection for the better part of the last year. So unreliable that I was looking for alternatives, including satellite. A visit by a technician ruled out the modem. He thought some poor wiring was the culprit and he switched around a couple of connections. This temporarily fixed the problem. As it happens, my upstairs neighbors moved out recently, and now my internet connection is working 100%. Hmmmm.

I only wish I could blame it on my neighbor! Unfortunately, what was once a wonderful service has progressively deteriorated during the past year, exhibiting well known but unsolved problems. The first is increasingly wide-spread outages, reflecting, I suspect, a failure to maintain the equipment. The second problem is one which I have discussed with two engineers at the company, the solution of which continues to elude them. During the course of a day differing websites become unavailable for various customers, a problem which they traced to their servers. They even gave me an alternate server to use for two weeks while they addressed the problem, but that server went away and the problem remains. I've concluded that they are mostly clueless.

Its a shame, but it seems that because of their financial problems (the owners were jailed) the company has lost the better people and those who remain are just not up to the job. That is my impression, anyway.

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One thing to consider about satellite internet is the very high packet latency.  This isn't usually much of a problem when doing things like surfing the web or sending or receiving e-mail.  But it can be a serious problem if you're trying to do something highly interactive, like run an application over X, a VPN tunnel, online gaming, chat, etc.  Give careful consideration to your internet usage patterns before making a decision.

Exactly so. I've had a good deal of experience using a friend's Direcway residential satellite connection. The things a typical home user would require (browsing, email, even file transfers) the satellite connection does reasonably well. But when I need ssh access to a remote server's command prompt, the high latency makes it a painful experience, and I'm better off using dialup. My friend is paying about $100 per month for the satellite connection, but he's in a location where cable and DSL are just not available, and he can't justify spending the money for T1.

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