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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 65700  
Subject: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 7:00 PM
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This isn't really a Mac question per se, but figure folks here would know, and might work differently with Macs.

Not sure yet, but thinking it may be becoming the time to modernize from 56 k dial-up, despite an extra $50 a month. Don't need it for TMF, but too much other stuff with streaming video and folks who think sending 5 meg power points via email to everyone on their magic list, whether needed or not, is starting to show the limitation of what I've done for more than 15 years (still don't know nuthin about burping no cell phones, neither).

I've been reading the competing claims from local DSL provider, who will connect up to university system (yes, there is fast connection at the office) and Comcast, who do our TV cable, about who offers the better speed. I don't need Comcast's email. The DSL provider makes a big deal about privacy and not sharing common connections (they tie in directly from the house to the university system). I have no idea if this matters.

In the long run, I think the prices won't differ much.

Any thoughts?
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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32600 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 7:39 PM
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I've been reading the competing claims from local DSL provider, who will connect up to university system (yes, there is fast connection at the office) and Comcast, who do our TV cable, about who offers the better speed. I don't need Comcast's email. The DSL provider makes a big deal about privacy and not sharing common connections (they tie in directly from the house to the university system). I have no idea if this matters.

In the long run, I think the prices won't differ much.

Any thoughts?


i just went through a similar process (actually changing from another cable company to Comcast)...
cost between DSL & cable seemed substantial.
and speed can be.

according to the DSL guy .... DSL speed can depend on distance to "switch", and cable speed can depend on traffic (which, i think is why my 'new' cable seems slower)

...going from dial-up, either will seem extra-super-fast.

....the privacy issue is News to me.



-j
....... fwiw


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Author: TwoCybers Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32602 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 9:04 PM
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Loki there is no difference between the Mac and the PC world once you get to the wire (or wireless signal) outside the box. The software within a Mac or a PC gives different names and different pictures on the screen.

Visit the Help with this Stupid Computer Board. There are almost weekly threads on how to hook up and other common events.

That said, your best reference is: DSLreports.com Go there and join. It is free so long as you never try to post from more then 1 PC. As soon as you use a second PC, you have to register and pay -- costs $10. It is a pain to get to pay the $10 if you screw up.

I have had DSL and Comcast multiple times for both. I have had DSL from multiple service providers. In my view unless you are running a web site or downloading lots of large files (as in movies or music pieces longer then 10 or 15 minutes), you face a choice that is economic as opposed to "speed" or security. However, I am firmly of the opinion you will care a great deal more about technical and customer service then speed a couple of years. I have no idea how good your local DSL group is. In my experience Comcast at its best sucks. However your local DSL may be worse. You can get comments on DSLreports. As you read, you need to understand Comcast may be a huge national wide company, but they have local tech support. The people in Nashville were much better then those I found in Atlanta. I went to Earthlink who had amazing tech support. About 90 days after I signed up, they promptly sent all support except for people terminating service and corporate accounts to Outsource land. The service was fair, but the wait to get service and the hoops they made you go through were not easy.

Currently I am with my local phone company. Support has been moved to Asia, but it is better then Bellsouth used to provide.

Cable and DSL service is different. Each has talking points. Generally Cable will be faster. Cable will be slowed down as more people use it -- like in the early evening. Think of the Cable pipe like your water main. It has a certain finite capacity. DSL on the other hand is slowed only by how far you are from the Switch. You should be able to measure that on your local phone company's web site. You will be using the local phone company's wires and service. You may purchase and get support from someone else. If you ever want to change DSL providers, this will become an important item. The phone people are in no hurry to do anything for another DSL provider.

Personally, I find setting up a local area network easier with DSL, but neither is hard. The frustration with Comcast is every time I have called for support, the first thing they demand is to disconnect the network -- assuming you don't pay Comcast a monthly fee for supporting your network. Never have had that demand from a DSL provider.

Admittedly I live in Atlanta, but in my opinion DSL is going to be less expensive then Cable for many years. The phone people got to the show late and have little other then price to compete with.

If you do not have a regular phone line, then Cable will undoubtedly be cheaper then DSL. Similarly getting only internet from the Cable company is expensive. Bundling is a read good way to save a few bucks. If you can combine local phone, internet and wireless there are substantial savings. Don't forget DirecTV has agreements also. You may not be able to move it all today, but over a period of a year you probably can move it all.

You must have filters on all phone lines used for anything if you get DSL. The are cheap, but keep this in mind if you use a dozen fax machines, phones, TIVOs, etc. I understand it is possible to filter a whole house, but I have not looked into it.

Now one last little item about Cable. The Internet signals are somewhere between channels 6 and 7 on the signal to your house. The amount of signal strength or power needed to make a TV picture is low as compared to powering a cable modem. Typically you will take 50% or even 75% of the total power to the modem. This can lead to low signal strength in some situations. You might want to ask you neighbors how reliable the cable signal is. The special channels like HBO are more sensitive then the basic channels. If your neighbors have trouble occasionally and do not use cable modems, you may have trouble.

Gordon
Atlanta

PS I really enjoy you on the Bonds and Fixed Income Board

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Author: 4aapl Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32603 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 9:36 PM
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I agree with most everything that TwoCybers said, with the most important part being that the speed difference probably doesn't matter much to you.

I used Cable for 2.5 years, and DSL for the past 5 years. In my area (CA, SF Bay Area) DSL is much much cheaper if you already have a phone line ($12+ vs $40+), and probably cheaper even if you get the basic phone line just for DSL. Since you don't have a cell phone and have been using dialup, I'm guessing that you are keeping your phone line.

Cable also tends to add $10-$15 onto the price if you don't have Cable TV. I currently have a faster than basic DSL line for about $26/month, whereas I'd have to pay about $60/month for Cable internet since I don't have cable TV.

As for speed, my service tops out at 1.5Mbps, whereas in some locations Cable is up to 6Mbps. If I was working remotely and downloading a DVD image from work (ie a fast source) several times per week that speed difference would be well worth it. Since I'm not, there are very few times where I ever max out the download speed.

My upload speed currently tops out at about 56KB/sec. Back 5 years ago when I had cable they capped it at 12KB/sec, but I would expect that that would have been updated by now. This number is important if you upload semi-big files very often, such as making modifications to those powerpoint presentations you get and sending them back. But unless you are doing this on a regular basis, it matters but it won't matter that much.

As for the DSL filters, each time we're received a new modem (ie when moving or changing providers) it has included 5 filters. If you have more than 5 devices and need more filters, I'd be happy to send you a couple for the cost of shipping. That goes for anyone out there, as my wife would be very happy to see more stuff disappearing from the garage :)

Overall, I'd look at whichever service gives you the best deal, when looking at a 1 year period.

4aapl

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32604 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 9:38 PM
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Thanks all (Gordon just pretends to be from Atlanta: I happen to know he is really from Flint, Michigan).

I went back to the DSL provider web site, and I think I may be misreading (it is a very bad website). The option they are promoting seems to be some kind of direct line to the house, which after an initial deal, is more expensive than Comcast. I suspect, somewhere in the fine print, if I actually fill out the form, there is a cheaper option via existing phone line, as long as I'm close to campus (like 2 minute jog). They just don't bother to tell you on the web site (and you have to read carefully to realize the initial deal on the other is going to go away in 6 months and be replaced by something more expensive than Cable.) If there is a simple DSL that is half the cost of Comcast, I think it's a no brainer. Guess I'll call Bangalore and find out in the morning.

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Author: DeltaOne81 Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32605 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 10:05 PM
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If there is a simple DSL that is half the cost of Comcast, I think it's a no brainer.

Is this DSL provider not your phone company? If not, try your phone company web site and check out their DSL options. This was the one thing I was going to comment on - absolutely no way DSL should be $50/month. In fact, Verizon and SBC/ATT offer somewhat slower DSL options for $15/month (768 Kbps downstream). Should be fast enough for about any need, although not blazing.

'Full speed' DSL (1.5 Mbps or 3.0 Mbps, usually) is typically $30-$35/month. Verizon and Qwest also offer options without a phone line at all (typically for $5/month more), if you don't already have a landlind that you want to keep.

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32606 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 10:06 PM
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" If I was working remotely and downloading a DVD image from work (ie a fast source) several times per week that speed difference would be well worth it."

What about watching streaming video? One of the reasons we are thinking about this is my wife seems to be needing to watch such stuff more often, and it would make life easier to do it from home. Is DSL good enough. Dial-up is a no go even for music.

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Author: DeltaOne81 Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32607 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/13/2006 10:10 PM
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What about watching streaming video? One of the reasons we are thinking about this is my wife seems to be needing to watch such stuff more often, and it would make life easier to do it from home. Is DSL good enough. Dial-up is a no go even for music.

Depends what video - answer: pretty likely yes. But its worth checking out. Go to the site of whoever streams the video. What bandwidth do they say the video needs?

Also, just on the off chance, make sure there's a 30 day money back guarantee or something. Satisfaction guarantee or the like. May be a bit of a pain, but worth it on the off chance its not fast enough.

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Author: Chopec Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32616 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/14/2006 10:46 AM
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If you're considering not going with a big provider (tying into the university system suggests you are), make sure that they aren't going to hassle you about using a Mac. There is absolutely no reason you can't use a Mac, but some companies are bitchy about it. And not consistently bitchy, either.

I've had a cable modem with the only cable provider in this area since they were first available ( 2000, I think). Several times I've been told "we don't support Macs" when calling because my internet connection went down. Since I'm a web professional, I knew that the trouble was not my Mac, so a lot of persistence would always force them to fix the problem. But it was a hassle.

I've noticed that this happens less nowadays, and the latest tech they sent out didn't even bother to whip out his Windoze disk to try to install software I didn't need. But I may have just been lucky.

So I wouldn't worry about this if you're going with a national provider, but if you're going with someone local, try to find out if this is going to be a problem.

The only other thing to consider about cable modems is whether or not the cable company is in the middle of major upgrades to their network. If they are, your cable modem service might suffer constant service interruptions. I dealt with that for a little over a year when what is now Comcast was upgrading its network to supply digital cable and on-Demand programming in this area.

The companies won't tell you if they're doing this; you have to be a sleuth. But sometimes it is possible to figure it out (search the web, check out what services they offer (or plan to offer), and look at the press statements and annual reports).

My cable modem connection is quite good these days. Switching to DSL might be a tad cheaper (I bundle my ISP with digital cable for a discount), but I don't want the hassle of setting up a new ISP.

Chopec

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32617 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/14/2006 11:06 AM
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Well,

I just talked to some idiot: needless to say makes the choice easier.

As far as I can tell (translating from idiot), DSL seems to mean different things. What these folks offer, which appealed to me because I would just use my university email account, is some kind of direct dedicated phone line for $50 a month (after introductory offer). I guess it is supposed to be faster than other DSL. I tried to push the guy about whether they offered a cheaper DSL with regular phone line, but if they do, he wasn't willing or able to tell me.

I figured out I can get the kind of DSL you folks are talking about via ATT/Yahoo (higher quality is $18 per month). I guess that's the way to go. Must be some way to do it and still use my normal email (???). Any thoughts about wireless versus cable modem. I don't have a phone line in the study and would love to get rid of the wires. But I worry about security with wireless (like credit card and bank transactions). Wireless would presume I finally get off the fence and order a new Mac, which supposedly has wireless built in, though I have no idea about compatability with ATT.

This also would mean putting aside my lifetime hatred for Ma Bell—I have been trying to figure out how to get out of SBC now that it took the hated name—but I'm not quite stupid enough to lose money in pursuit of a whim.

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Author: amg2 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32621 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/14/2006 12:30 PM
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My take:

I use Comcast at home and Qwest DSL at work. In terms of speed, etc, I don't notice much difference. They're both pretty dang fast.

I've had more service issues with the DSL than with cable. My DSL has left me high and dry for several days at a time (and I had to call out our contract geek for help) where as the only trouble I've had with the cable is when our cable service was completely out. This only lasted a couple of hours and has only happened once in 3 years.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Around here, DSL is a bit cheaper than cable, but we have cable TV service already and we wanted to ditch the landline for phones and go cell only. That was our deciding factor in going the cable route.

Either way, once you leave dial-up, you'll never want to go back again!

amg2

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Author: Chopec Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32623 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/14/2006 1:18 PM
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You may or may not be able to access your university email account. It depends how the university's IT department has set things up. If they're good, you should easily be able to access your university account. Mail.app can handle email from multiple accounts and will walk you through the process. But talk to the IT department first -- they should supply you with all the settings, usernames, passwords, etc. that you need.

DSL is a the shorthand for a range of technologies -- all of which use the "last mile" of the phone lines. Some providers might want to run a new phone line (I've never heard of that), but that should be irrelevant to you. What you want to know is how fast the various systems are; make them give you the numbers. Then compare that with the pricing (and don't forget installation price, if they're charging you for installation). You might want to read the wikipedia entires for DSL and cable modem.

Lokicious wrote:
Any thoughts about wireless versus cable modem. I don't have a phone line in the study and would love to get rid of the wires. But I worry about security with wireless (like credit card and bank transactions).

You're getting confused -- "wireless" (or WiFi or Airport) is a networking protocol. Cable modems and DLS provide broadband connection to the internet. You can have a wireless network with either a DSL or cable modem connection. There is no "compatibility" issue with wireless and your ISP.

I suppose it is possible to have a cable modem with a WiFi router built into the same box -- similarly, most DSL setups I've seen usually have a router somewhere, and that router could provide wireless access to the network. But even if they're jammed into the same plastic box, they're two very different things.

I use a cheap netgear router that has a WiFi access point; the router connects to my cable modem in the office. The WiFi signal allows me to use my iBook to surf the web throughout the house. However, I suggest you consider purchasing an Apple Airport Base Station. They're about twice the price, but much easier to install and keep running. Wireless networking is much more trouble-prone that wired (ethernet) networking.

Wireless networks are less secure, but it is possible to encrypt the wireless signals to lessen the chance of anyone snagging your data. This encryption is much easier to manage with Apple's Base Station (another reason to spend the extra bucks).

You don't necessarily need to buy a new Mac to use wireless: in addition to the base station, you'll need a corresponding card in your Mac. Some are easier to upgrade than others, so check Apple's web site for more information.

Keep in mind that your wireless network may be slower than your new broadband internet connection, especially if your older Mac can't use the more recent Airport Extreme networking protocol.

Chopec

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32624 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/14/2006 3:40 PM
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"You're getting confused -- "wireless" (or WiFi or Airport) "

Not confused, but may have been unclear. What I din't know was whether there are any security issues with Airport (basically about 20 feet from my desk to the phone jack in the bedroom) like with Wifi. This is really just a desire to get rid of wires.

I did a little more research about the company offering direct connection to the university system: they're advertising 20 MBs, not the 1.5-3 MBs via SBC, which must be why it costs more than cable. It looks like they attach a phone wire directly to the house, though I don't know what happens between here and the campus system, if they aren't piggy-backing SBC.

I'm not considering a new Mac just for this. Lots of stuf fmounting up. I'm not hesitating about the cost, but I prefer not getting in two early on a new model. Part of the problem with my G4, which I got a great deal on from the former MacWherehouse, is the deal turned out to be for the earliest model, which has been fine, but the 800 Mhz version with a superdrive would have been a lot easier to keep going with—at some point spending to keep going, when I'd probably upgrade in a year, anyway, just isn't worth it.

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Author: 4aapl Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32625 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/14/2006 4:15 PM
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What I din't know was whether there are any security issues with Airport (basically about 20 feet from my desk to the phone jack in the bedroom) like with Wifi. This is really just a desire to get rid of wires.

Airport is just Apple's name for wireless. They are the same thing (use the same standards, etc). An Airport base station is more expensive than most non-Apple wireless routers, but like has been said it's normally easier to set up and to add more secure functions to.

For instance, someone posted in the last couple days that they made a password on their wireless router and it gave them a different set of numbers/letters that they had to use. I'm fairly certain that on the airport basestation, that it lets you use the actual password that you entered, which is very helpful if you are entering it more than once.

So your new Mac would have an "airport card" in it, but it's just wireless so it could work with either an Apple Basestation or a different brand's wireless router. Basically you'd be looking for something with 802.11g, but that should be basically any wireless router out there these days.

Personally, I prefer using ethernet cables. But I've enabled the wireless portion of my SMC router from time to time if I am using a laptop from work or something.

4aapl

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Author: Kcourt Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 32637 of 65700
Subject: Re: Local DSL vs Comcast Cable Date: 4/15/2006 12:11 PM
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I live in orange County, California - I have my basic TV cable, my internet cable and my phone service with Cox Communications and I love it. The total package costs about $100 per month. They have great service and I have had it this way for about five years.

The DSL here is not as good so I picked the best for my area.

Not enough standardization in the country so it all depends on where you live.

Kathy

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