Hooked Up

After years of living as veritable savages, The Queen and I finally got high-speed Internet access. Yes, this is a stark break from my usual neoluddist tendencies, such as preferring board to computer games, my steadfast refusal to acquire a cell phone, and my frequent visits to ASCII porn sites. (Warning: Last link is NSFW if your monitor’s resolution is set to 1680×12550 and your manager is standing exactly seven feet behind you.)

Frankly, I was quite happy with dial-up (except when I was actually using it, when I was typically ENRAGED). But if video killed the radio star, Web 2.0 killed the 56K modem. When Gmail launched I quickly adopted it as my primary email account, but since then they have larded the joint up with so much AJAX that I was urging friends to print hard copies of messages they had written me and send them via the postal service, as that would often reach me quicker. Ditto for Flickr. Nothing like having a repository of 100 photos that you can view at a rate of four per hour.

Anyhow, long story short, we got ourselves cable. We asked around and finally settled on Comcast as our Internet provider, which was akin to asking around about which gas we should use to respirate and then settling upon oxygen. Comcast, you see, holds a local monopoly on the Seattle high-speed Internet market. Oh sure, we could have opted for DSL, but, as near as I can tell, DSL compares to cable in being just as obscenely expensive and half as good. Perhaps is recognition of this, Qwest (the biggest local DSL provider) is trying to entice new customers by offering bundle deals. They have, for instance, teamed up with America Online to offer substandard broadband and AOL in one package. Maybe the two companies realized that they were both essentially targeting the same set of victims and decided to join forces, Legion Of Doom style.

Not that I’m Comcast’s biggest fan either. I just cannot trust the business acumen of a company that uses a flash-intensive website to sell a service to folks on dial-up. Dude, I wouldn’t need cable if it took less than a fortnight for your home page to load. It’s like a billboard campaign for the blind.

27 thoughts on “Hooked Up

  1. Are you saying that up until now you’ve been on *dial-up*? God. This is like finding out that someone you admire hasn’t bathed in a year.

    My condolences and congrats on the new connection.

  2. Not to be a total pedant, but I think you meant to say ‘cannot’ in the second sentence of your last paragraph.

    And, good heavens, man, even my mother managed to move to cable two years ago (my brother and I have never been so proud).

  3. It really depends on equipment, location, and load for the cable/DSL comparison. Both depend on how much technology they have working for their users. Cable’s speed depends on how much load is on the system, i.e. how many users they’ve got connected. DSL’s speed depends on how far you are from a trunk point, meaning it may be blazing fast (faster than cable) if you’re close to a fiber optics connect point, or it may be ass-slow if they don’t have enough trunk points or don’t have one in your neighborhood.

    And then of course customer service is a different animal altogether. This concludes your high-speed internet access lesson for today. Enjoy teh intarwebs!

  4. “Comcast, you see, holds a local monopoly on the Seattle high-speed Internet market.”

    Actually it’s only a monopoly in some areas. In my neighborhood (the CD) the cable monopoly is held by Millenium Digital Media, which is run with a George W Bush-style competence. Fortunately their ineptness doesn’t result in people, well, dying, but when we had broadband through MDM it was down at least four times per week. So now we pay Speakeasy an obscene amount for DSL!

    Enjoy your massive throughput!

  5. Faced with the same choice of Comcast or Qwest in Albuquerque, we went with Qwest.

    DSL gives better up and down speeds. Comcast is fast down but slow up.

    so uploading 10 megs of video of MiMi eating a carrot for Nana only takes a minute.

    plus I don’t have cable at home so the evil tv monster doesn’t suck my brains as much.

    in alb, it’s actually cheaper for the 3M DSL than to go with Comcast at 10M. And again, that’s download only. DSL gives me ~1M upload where as Comcast is ~256k (DSL is 5x+ faster)

  6. Sigh. I just went through this in my recent move (in the Seattle area, no less). We settled on comcast, and even got suckered in to digital cable. And yes, I even caved to inevitability and got a cell phone after years of railing against them (I still don’t use it in the car, though, or the movie theatre like the asshole did last night behind me in the middle of a film festival film). Again – sigh.

  7. We pay Speakeasy an obscene amount for DSL as well, but we have that along with their VoIP service which I can’t recommend strongly enough. No more land lines for us (glory be, we fired Qwest!). Free long distance anywhere in the US and Canada, and even to many foreign countries (Canada doesn’t count). Plus they have the best customer service of any company I’ve ever dealt with anywhere, ever.

  8. isn’t Qwest the only telecommunications company that didn’t willingly let the NSA peek into their customer’s private lives?

    not to turn this into a political thing, but when those defective yeti george bush jokes go scrolling past on his ticker-tape machine, you’d better keep an eye out for a legion of blackhawks above your house.

  9. I read an article in a doctors waiting room in (I think) a WIRED magazine that would now be 3 years old about people mainly in the Netherlands working on using the plumbing feeding homes/neighborhoods for the transmission of electronic information that would at least theoretically have fantastically high rates of speed. There were some problems to be overcome… Fill in your punchline here! Personally that’s what I’m holding out for. Large Louie

  10. I had comcast a while back and came to the conclusion that they were evil. They required that I install software on my machine to use their service which I don’t like(easy enough to get around, but ugly all the same). After some research I found the previous incarnations of their software had spyware in it. Nice. There was also some question of privacy violations a couple years back where they were keeping information on what their customers were doing online.

    The service itself was unreliable too, it seemed whenever I did anything intensive like streaming radio and online gaming my connectivity would be dropped entirely for hours.

    You could get a human every time you called customer service, but they were about as knowledgable as an answering machine. I never got any useful technical assistance from them.

    I had no choice but to use comcast or dialup for several years, and as soon as DSL became available I was all over it. I didn’t care if I was losing speeds as long as I could be rid of comcast.

    Hope you have better luck!

  11. Just be glad you have options– I live in the country. Cable isn’t run out there. Too far from the wireless towers. DSL isn’t available. It’s dialup or bust and the phone lines are so far from the hub and they freak out if I’m trying to open more than one page. I’m disconnected every twenty minutes.

    Congrats on cable, enjoy.

  12. damn it, thought i was the last person in the world to have never owned a cell phone. Has anyone ever, ever overheard people having an interesting conversation on one ? Perhaps people naturally lower their voice if they are, and that’s why we never hear them?

  13. I finally got DSL in January, and I’m still cellphone-less(I’ve never even had a pager), and quite happy.
    A friend lost her cell-phone recently and asked me: “How can you survive without one?”. To which I replied: “The same way you did 5-6 years ago when the majority of us still didn’t have cellphones.”
    I prefer homing pigeons.

  14. I just faced this monster of a choice myself. I work from home and constantly move large files to FTP in Pittsburgh. I had Qwest, but they failed me completely every 10 months or so for the past four years (total loss of service, $100 to walk in and inspect the lines, up to 10 weeks to resolve). When my upload dropped to below-dial-up-speeds last week, I pulled the plug on Qwest and switched to comcast. And, to address the above issue, I am only 150 feet from a DSL transfer staion of Qwest’s. They have spread themselves too thin. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my cable connection is so stable that I’ve noticed. Qwest consistently varied in signal strength. As for cell phones, I’ve had one for almost two years, and I have talked for almost (not yet) 1000 minutes on it. Have it, but don’t abuse it. Who wants to use *any* phone?!

  15. The best service I ever got from Comcast happened the day I returned my digital cable box and cable modem. This was after months of crappy, intermittent service reminiscent of dialup, unresolved by many, many calls. Now we have a Qwest package and I have NO complaints.

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