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AT&T DSL or Comcast Cable modem?

Old 12-02-06, 10:51 AM
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AT&T DSL or Comcast Cable modem?

well I bought my first house and I'm moving later this month. I'm doing some research to figure out what I should get for my internet, a cable modem from Comcast or AT&T DSL. In my first apartment (in the same town the house is in) I had a Comcast cable modem and it was very fast and reliable. Where I am now, I have Cox and it's not as reliable or as fast but 98% of the time I'm very happy with it. I've never tried DSL but the price difference is around 20 bucks a month less. It sounds like the speed is less but I don't think I really need the 6mbps downstream speed I have now. Usually I just surf the web, download a few things, use XBox Live to play games and download demos on my 360. Would AT&T's pro package (1.5-3.0mbps downstream) be sufficient for that? Any comments on AT&T's service specifically in the Northeast? Also, would I be able to use my existing D-Link wireless router (I heard that some of AT&T's modems can be tricky to configure with a 3rd party router). Any tips are appreciate. $20 less a month may not seem like much but I'm trying to limit my costs since my mortgage is alot more than my rent is right now.
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Old 12-02-06, 11:38 AM
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Impossible to answer as the quality of both varies greatly by area (and incase of DSL wiring quality in the house).

I've tried Verizon DSL twice, and it has sucked both times for me. The first was because the local CO boards were overloaded so it was slow as as in the evenings and weekends. The second was because the phone wiring is a nightmare in the old ass condo building I live in now (box is a mess down stairs, wiring picks up interference from the big radio station two blocks away) so it was slow all the time.

I switched to comcast at both places and have been pleased. It has been fairly reliable, just a weekend here an there were it was slow or down--and seemed like these were often tied to speed increases so they were probably just working on their network.

Best I can tell you is to just try which ever one yet get a better deal on, and if you aren't happy with it switch and try the other.
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Old 12-02-06, 12:48 PM
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DSL is trickier with the initial setup and as Josh said, issues like the quality of existing phone wiring can have an impact, which you may not discover until you actually try setting up DSL.
But, let's assume there's no wire quality problems.
DSL requires anything else that connects to a phone line to be filtered from the modem. This is usually done with little filter boxes that connect to the wall phone jack. If you have more than five other devices (phone, fax, satellite TV control, security system), it'll impact your speed and performance. A multi-line phone system of more than two lines requires new wiring added so that the modem has a dedicated phone line. A two-line phone system requires a special two-line filter, but no additional wiring is needed. If you house has a security system that connects to the phone line, a special class of filter may be needed there, possibly a visit from the security system tech.
The problems usually encountered about setting up with a router is setting up the sign on protocol that DSL uses, which requires a username & password sign-on. In older times, the sign-on was done with software on your computer. If you used a router, the username & password were stored on the router; it did the authentication and no software was needed on the computer. Nowadays, the authentication is done by the DSL modem, but that feature needs to be turned off (sometimes called "bridge mode") to co-operate with a router properly. Problem is, a call to the DSL tech support may not be able to tell you how to do that, as that's more advanced settings. But, once you know what you're looking for, you can probably work it out yourself.
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Old 12-02-06, 04:59 PM
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Let's assume ideal conditions. I will mostly likely only have 2 or possibly 3 devices using the phone line so i don't think that will be a problem. I'm just wondering if cable is inherently better and also looking for any first hand DSL experience (thanks Josh for your story about Verizon). Thanks for the comments so far, I think I'll try AT&T for starters and if it's bad, switch to Comcast.
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Old 12-03-06, 11:44 AM
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Another thing to consider, is that cable is going to offer faster top speeds than DSL.

DSL generally maxes out a 3000 KBPS (and the speed you can get may be lower if you are not with within a couple miles of the Verizon CO building.

Cable ranges up to 16000kbps in some places, with 8000kbps being the comcast standard package you get if you if you have their cable.

Of course Verizon FiOS is much faster, and is often a better deal if you're lucky enough to live somewhere that they offer FioS internet and TV.
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Old 12-03-06, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
Another thing to consider, is that cable is going to offer faster top speeds than DSL.

DSL generally maxes out a 3000 KBPS (and the speed you can get may be lower if you are not with within a couple miles of the Verizon CO building.

Cable ranges up to 16000kbps in some places, with 8000kbps being the comcast standard package you get if you if you have their cable.

Of course Verizon FiOS is much faster, and is often a better deal if you're lucky enough to live somewhere that they offer FioS internet and TV.
I don't live in a Verizon area, AT&T is my local telco.
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Old 12-03-06, 07:35 PM
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Well, ignore FIOS comment then, but speed based on distance from CO or local relay point still stands.
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Old 12-03-06, 07:40 PM
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Good advice here. I would also check www.broadbandreports.com. They have information on pretty much every broadband provider in the country, and their info on mine (RCN) was pretty spot-on. Just take it with a grain of salt (like every other review-based website on the net).
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