Monday, January 07, 2008

Shopping for Internet : Leaving Comcast for...?

I need help. Karen and I are fed up with Comcast. First, we ditched their cable TV signal for Dish Network, but we haven't found a new internet provider. I'm going to run down some of the options we're looking at, but please let me know if there are alternatives that I'm leaving out. Hopefully, this post will help others find the most affordable in-home internet access, but let's start with ME FIRST.

Since we moved to Byrd Park, we've been paying $55 a month for internet and basic cable (combined). Now that the mini-dish is hooked up (200 channels!), Karen went to Comcast to have them take the basic TV cable off of our deal and lower our monthly payment for internet access. And what do ya know? The price actually goes UP if you discontinue the TV aspect of the Comcast bundle. It goes up from $55 to $60.

Plus, we don't have a need for a land line since we're content with our respective cell phones: an important point, since this keeps us from benefiting from the economical benefit of bundling services.

Okay, here are the options that I'm aware of:

Verizon: High speed internet is $24.99 per month. The new FIOS (fiber optic 5 Mbps) service is $47.99/mo. Anyone have any experience with either of these? How fast is the non-FIOS cable? The answer: 786 kbps. How does that compare to Broadband?

: $19.99 (256 kbps) ($14.99 w/2yr commitment) These guys seem pretty shady with their incessant mailings. The site only quote promotional prices and doesn't include monthly prices after the initial promotional period.

Richmond FREE WiFi: Don't really now how this works, but I'm waiting to hear back from them. Obviously, the best possible option would be FREE internet for my whole neighborhood.

Comcast: $42.99/mo (6 Mbps). What gives? Why am I paying more for this? Is it really faster than FIOS?


Okay, that's enough research for now. Where do I go from here? Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.


  1. We dislike Comcast because we have to call them about every 4 months to fix something. But I do have to say they do come out and stay out until the problem is fixed. But it would be nice not to have to call them at all. We pay $65 for Cable / Internet. and another $7 for 2 HD boxes, and $13.95 for the DVR. About $86... So far we haven't been able to find anything comparable. I have a hard time going with Verizon -- Why can't they waive an activation fee? Why should I have to pay to try their services? and Verizon is treating the FIOS like a Cell phone Contract. You have to pay if you decide to leave FIOS before your contract expires.

  2. Anonymous12:52 PM

    I'm actually using Clearwire right now. We had phonom/Cavtel DSL, but the service was crappy. We also ditched our landline, and I picked Clearwire to replace the DSL. We're paying $36/mo for 1.5/256 speeds, and I just did a speed test and got 1.8/211, so it's performing as promised. FWIW, the modem is actually in our basement near a window - haven't had any issues at all with signal here in town. It's nice to be able to tote the internet with me, too.
    Their site is aggravating, although once you enter an address in (I usually use one of my neighbors' :) you get much more information on pricing.
    We have DirecTV, which I love, other than the recent mysterious disappearance of some of our HD channels.

  3. Anonymous4:08 PM

    I was recently wondering about this too, especially using Clearwire. Good to hear someone comment with We have Comcast, but the wife doesn't want to drop cable :( Primarily for their on-demand.

    If I may ask, what was the price like changing to satellite for cable?

    We're at the 1 yr price change, and I'm really not too happy about Comcast and their "service" and would like to consider other options...

  4. So far, these comments are really helpful. Maybe Clearwire isn't so bad. Between them and Verizon, there's gotta be a way to save some money on this.

    Speaking of which, we're kinda splurging on the mini-dish. The Dish Network was a little cheaper than the others, but we went with the 200 channel option (instead of 250 or 500) and we threw in HBO (for the Wire) and Showtime (for the L Word). I think it's $76 or something (for two tv sets and a DVR). And we still thinking of getting more channels cuz we're missing the DIY channel and Nat'l Geographic. Anyhow, this decision was partially motivated by a planned pregnancy that is putting Karen on the couch more often.

    Okay, enough about TV. Let's talk about affordable interweb access.

  5. We have DirecTV for television & Comcast for internet. At the end of the Comcast promo rate ($30/month), I called their customer service and was able to get a new rate of $35 per month rather than pay the $60 plus per month. Rate is locked in for 12 months, so my calendar is marked to call again.

    The idea behind Richmond free wifi is that you or someone close to you share their connection via a wireless gateway. You can purchase additional nodes ($50-100) that act as repeaters. I currently host a gateway, sharing my connection, though no one in my neighborhood has added a repeater.

  6. Not sure if you are interested in the opinion of a fool :) but I got FIOS a few weeks ago and it is the bomb. 5Mbps download and 2Mbps upload.

    I've done several speed tests and it still holds (sometimes upload is 1.8). I had DSL and it had become painfully slow. It is about $15 bucks more but 5 times as fast.

    The techie also said they would be going to 10Mbps in this area sometime in the next year.

    I also got the cable package and it is great too. Much better guide and free stuff Comcast makes you pay for - NFL network, Fox Soccer Channel, and a bunch of food and home improvements shows. Too many really.

  7. Hey, I'm the fool in this case, paying too much for internet at home. Tomorrow, I'm gonna pitch a fit to Comcast's customer service dept and let them know that they need to lower my rates if they want to keep me as a customer.

    However, Jon, I do think you've probably bet on the right horse with the FIOS deal. Personally, I'd like ot see my whole block supplied by one or two FIOS subscriptions that are distributed through a couple wireless hubs. Our Apple Extreme Base Station sends our internet signal across the street and four houses down (about a 400ft radius). That kind neighbor was kicking in $10 a month, but eventually got their own service.

    Maybe I should read more at the Richmond Free Wifi site.

  8. Anonymous9:15 AM

    We're on FiOS here (far west end) and love it. We're former Comcast and Verizon DSL customers.

    The speed is great and consistent (something I could never say for Comcast and our DSL account).

    We made a conscious choice to not get Verizon's FiOS TV service. If my internet connection is down, we still want to get TV.

    For that, we have DirectTV. Again, no problems there other than some service interruption during seriously bad weather (4 or 5 times in the last 3 years).

  9. Just wanted to drop a quick note and say I'm on FiOs in Brandermill and LOVE it.
    Also: Please, Please, Please don't buy Clearwire. I've seen the construction of their equipment at a few of my companies cell towers and it's very shoddy. That cable bouncing around unsecured inside the tower near the fairground can't last long. The zip ties on the ice bridge won't last through too many winters. Plus, they are using about the lowest grade cable they can find, so it probably wouldn't last long even if they isntalled it correctly.

  10. Forgot my Comcast bill at home three days in a row, so I haven't called to ask for a price break. However, when I do, I will relish warning them that I have researched my options and I'm prepared to jump ship. Ah... the tiniest bit of consumer power should be savored. Anyhow, Fios is looking better and better, but I'd really like to split the deal with my neighbors. Time to start knocking on some doors and inviting folks over for tea.

  11. Breakthru: Called Comcast today. Couldn't get through the first dozen times. When I did, I got stonewalled on the idea of a more reasonable monthly bill. They said that $57.95 is their basic charge for internet, minus $15 if you bundle, plus $3 for modem rental. Finally, I explained that I'm not willing to see my bill go up and that I am willing to switch providers. The lady on the other end said that they don't have a record of offering us a discounted promotional rate in the past, so just this once they'd do internt (w/o tv) for $34.99, plus $3 for the modem (for 12 months, only). Now, I've got to talk to my wife about this, cuz she's the one who's gotta make the call. The remaining question is..., how does this compare to Verizon FIOS?

  12. My wife is calling Comcast to take up Comcast on their offer to decrease their monthly price. In the meantime, I'm keeping on eye on Verizon FiOS. Another Richmond blogger reported some problems with them and then things got interesting:


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