DSL & Wireless Internet Info

A friend was asking recently about broadband alternatives as well as wireless. I thought I’d post our exchange so that other folks can see and compare with their own experiences. Or better yet maybe this can help clarify the alternatives for somebody.

Can you tell me what you know about the best DSL and wireless internet companies? I am thinking about making the leap to DSL and wireless and I know you have probably done tons of research.

My neighbor went with EarthLink for both and they seem pretty happy. Right now they are running a special for 19.99 per month for 6 months and then it changes to 39.99 per month. This includes start up fees (what ever that is) and equipment.

Which company did you go with and are you happy?

It really depends what you want to do with your Internet connection whether you go for DSL or cable for your broadband.

If you think you’ll enter the VOIP realm, then give the DSL a miss and go for Cable. You cannot unbundled your phone service from DSL so you are stuck with “ma bell” phone service. VOIP is VERY inexpensive. I’ve been using it for a little over a year now and have been impressed.

$39.99/mo. sounds like a VERY good deal. You’ll want to ensure that’s not one of their “Lite” products. If you can get 3 MBPS download at that price you’re doing well. I personally would not settle for any less than that. My current cable offering is 6 MBPS download and 384 KBPS upload which is ample for my current needs.

I have other friends who are using Earthlink and they’re quite happy with it too.

I originally started with Bell South directly and was pretty satisfied with them. I believe they actually run the DSL on behalf of Earthlink.

I’m never totally happy with any of these companies. They always do something that I find bothersome. But it’s a matter of getting as many positive features and as few negatives as you want. I found uptime with Bellsouth and Comcast to be roughly the same. There are always hiccoughs with both systems – it seems my comcast modem needs to be reset more often than my DSL needed. But it’s twice as fast. The DSL folks occasionally reinitialize their modem which would cause my home network to fail until I set it back to what I wanted. I think they’ve stopped that foolishness now however.

To help you gauge, I’m currently paying $63 / month for Comcast’s Internet which is more expensive than the DSL, but when you factor in the savings on Telephone and Long Distance charges, the Comcast service with Vonage VOIP comes out something like $15 – $25 less per month. It’s ironic that I get my TV from Satellite and my phone via my cable company. Oh, and my company pays for the broadband connection so it’s a theoretical cost for me now..

Feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call if you have other questions. Nothing about any of this is black or white. No matter what you do, make sure you put a router between your computer and your modem. If you invest in a wireless router now (about $80 realistically) you’ll be primed for wireless access inside your house. But the router provides an important safeguard between you and the Internet cloud.

Thanks for your response. You are always on top of the newest technology. It is all too confusing to me…

I looked over EarthLink’s home page and they are saying the $19.95/mo for 6 months ($40/mo afterwards) service is for download speeds “up to” 3.0 Mbps. I currently have dial up and it is painfully slow. Not sure what my modem speed is though… Does the “up to” 3.0 Mbps download speed sound like it would seldom be at 3.0 Mbps?

What makes the internet wireless? Is it the router and/or special software or other hardware?

I still like the Satellite for my TV. I don’t want to go back to cable. Would you recommend DirectTV over DishNetwork if I went with EarthLink or does it matter? I didn’t know if they were affiliated.

I currently have phone service with BellSouth so would that service continue unchanged if I went with EarthLink?

You mentioned that your $62/mo for Comcast’s Internet is a savings when factoring in telephone and long distance. Are you saying your Comcast Internet provides you your wireless internet service and phone (local and long distance)? And, do you have some unlimited long distance plan as well?

Thanks again for your input..

Yes “Up To” is what they usually promise. For DSL I found that to be pretty optimistic. I typically would get 2.3-2.5 Mbps whereas with the cable I’m much closer to the “Up To” 6 at about 5.8 – 6.0 Mbps. Moving from dial-up to DSL I doubt you’ll be disappointed with 2.x Mbps. at $20 / month I’d say “go for it”.

Unless you opt to get your home network set up by Earthlink too (I believe you’ll find that’s an option on some other part of the website. Probably will run you about $10/month more) you’ll just get a DSL modem. Make sure you get the one that has an Ethernet output, not the USB output. If your computer is at all recent you’ll already have an ethernet card in it. And if not you can pick one up for under $20. This will give you the most flexibility going forward.

To have either wireless and/or more than one computer share your internet connection, you need a router. Even if you only have one computer hard-wired to the internet I still highly recommend you get a router anyway since all routers now come with a built-in firewall which provides excellent protection from the Internet.
I picked up a d-link 524 wireless router recently from Amazon.com for less than $50 and I’m very happy with it.

Of course you want to have a current antivirus too to round out your suite of protection. If you don’t want to drop the $40 or so that Norton’s Anti-Virus will run you, there is an excellent free antivirus package available out there (probably it’s appended a tag to the bottom of this email) called AVG. I use it on my backup server and have just switched to it from Symantec (even though I’ve paid for the Norton AV license) because Symantec is such a resource hog it was slowing down my laptop.

Yes, even though your DSL service will actually be physically provided by Bell South, your existing phone bill will remain unchanged and you will receive a separate bill from Earthlink for your DSL service.

I use Vonage for my VOIP phone service. I can see where Comcast is offering their own (more expensive) option now too. For $27 a month Vonage includes unlimited calls to anywhere in the US and Canada as well as amazingly low overseas rates (which I never need to use). Also it includes voicemail, conference calling, call waiting, caller ID and “simulring” (you can give it up to 5 phone numbers to ring i.e. your cell phones, and the first one to pick up “wins” and receives the call). You can configure it to send you an email when you receive a voicemail (you can even tell it to send you the voicemail as a WAV file if you want). It’s an excellent value. And get this, if you take your Vonage router with you, you can phone people from anyplace that has a high speed internet connection (i.e. many hotels nowadays). If you were in London, England you could phone folks using that system as if you were local the the US.

For the same services above for my Bell South phone (not including voicemail and the long distance) I was being charged over $40. It was really a no-brainer for me to move to Comcast & Vonage.

Good luck figuring out how you’re going to go. Earthlink sounds like a great deal unless you want to do VOIP, in which case you need to do the math. You may find it’s still worthwhile to get Earthlink and then eat the cost of basic phone service from Bell South and port your existing phone number over to Vonage. But YMMV.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on March 25, 2006 at 2:12 pm

1,824 views

2 Comments so far

  1. King April 1, 2006 10:48 am

    Where does “wireless broadband’ fit into this mix of services? I believe it’s ‘vorizion’ that I hear the adds for.

  2. Marc April 1, 2006 1:04 pm

    Verizon does have some offerings coming onto the market but I’m not at all sure what the reliability / penetration is like.

    The way the telcos have been behaving lately I’m pretty sure they’re going to mess up the wireless market (i.e. make it WAY more expensive than folks are willing to pay) until some other player (my money is on Google for this) comes along and shakes things up with either very competitive or even free offerings.

    I’m wondering if the real future of broadband isn’t going to be in giving away the access and then monetizing the services. This would probably be much more equitable in terms of charging folks for the actual bandwidth that they are consuming rather than the size of the pipe coming into their computers…

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