Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cable and DSL Options in the United States

Cable and DSL Internet Options in the United States

A short essay on decades of experience

I had a friend who had cable in her apartment complex for over a decade - she could download over cable, but she had to dial-up to the cable company via her telephone line in order to conduct her upload content! No cable supplied UPS for the internet or phone.

I have assisted multiple families with their cable set-up in the U.S. I have spoken to many college students who have cable. The complaints are all the same - on off-hours, it is fast, but when people are home, it is sloooowwww. Once they see other options working, they will often change to a non-cable service, to get better consistency with their service. No cable supplied UPS for the internet or phone.

I know another family who has Verizon FiOS, but when there is a power outage, the (VoIP) phone would only work for about 15 minutes. Fast internet access, video, phone - but performance during power outage at the fiber access point was sub-par.I supplied them with a massive UPS in the house for the FiOS TV/Telco/WiFi access point, the house could survive the outage, but the neighborhood could not - Verizon can't size a UPS to save their lives in a neighborhood fiber access point..

I know another family who has $19.95 DSL from the telco. For poor families, this is still an option, but it is unadvertized. It is not super fast, but it is usable for most purposes, including watching television over the internet from overseas. No UPS provided by the telco, but the POTS line still works during power outages. I provided a UPS for their computer and DSL - works great during outages.

I know another family who bought a house in a "future proof" community, with real fiber to the curb - every house had an RJ45. It started with T1 download speed for internet to every house, and never progressed beyond that. Those forward-thinking communities got stuck. Copper is a lot more flexible, it seems. Those families can not even get DSL or an copper-hybrid (FiOS or UVerse) alternatives - Cable is their only escape.

When I first bought DSL, the telco would not run it to my house, but I was able to get it through a third-party provider. It was fast enough and cheap. The analog POTS line was clear. During power outages, everything worked, great. I could never get the speed boosted beyond T1 download speeds. I provided my own UPS and had terrific reliability - even during long power outages. I kept it as long as I could, until the "need for speed" eclipsed usability. Overall, this was my favorite option.

I later moved to major telco DSL, because they offered higher speed than the third-party DSL that I was using. Honestly, my third party DSL was more reliable (rock-solid), but the additional speed was worth the migration to the new (slightly unreliable during rainstorms) service. I needed to add 2 VoIP lines, to my existing POTS line. I had my own (large) UPS and I could use my internet for over 6 hours during a long unexpected power outage.

I recently made the switch to ATT UVerse, which is pretty reasonable. I needed higher upload speed, to add a 3rd (non ATT) VoIP line. I use the phone and (fastest available) internet (without the video.) The telco phone appears to be a VoIP type connection, built into the same box which offers video. The telco telephone is reasonable and they included a UPS for the telephone/internet/wifi-gateway - we had some power short outages, but I don't know what the phone or internet performance will be like with >15 minute outages.

Overall, DSL/POTS in the U.S. is cheap and stable - my favorite. Former fiber offerings were premium but inflexible. Cable in apartment complexes is horrible (using POTS line for cable upload and losing your voice line during internet surfing over cable!) Cable in communities is fast, but slow during peak times. Newer fiber offerings, using copper to the home, seem to be a best-of-breed between Cable and traditional DSL... except Verizon couldn't keep a network up beyond 15 minutes, in my experience.

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