The Great Internet Upgrade, part 1: Adieu, Comcast

I’ve been a loyal Comcast cable internet customer since they first came to my town (some time around ‘99, I think). During that time, I’ve endured a few rate hikes, and have generally been pleased with the improvements to service (especially once AT&T sold out to Comcast and I suddenly had an internet connection that was up more often than down).

Unfortunately, I now live in a new neighborhood, populated with young folks like me and my wife. These people like their internet connections, and they either are major bittorrent users or their kids are gobbling up bandwidth on MySpace. End result: My actual connection to the internet is about 1.5Mbit, when I’m paying for a supposed six meg connection!

So, I finally got fed up. Qwest sent me a timely offer for a 5Mbit ADSL connection for only $26/month, and I grabbed it. If nothing else, DSL guarantees a speedy pipe to your door.

The initial install failed, so I got a tech out. Unlike the typical Comcast grunt who spends half his time on the cell phone with trained folks, the Qwest fellow had a variety of tools and clearly knew his stuff. After checking the obvious failure points (turn it off and on again, double check modem settings, make sure everything’s plugged in), he proceeded down the street to check the main trunk into the neighborhood. Turns out the initial phone wiring was a bit off, so he spent a good two hours out there re-wiring everything! I was impressed.

I was more impressed when I actually tried my DSL connection. Instead of the 5Mb I paid for, I got a screamin’ fast 7Mb connection (which translates to about 5.9Mb in real world use – not too shabby)! Upstream is about 730Kb, real-world, which is a fair sight better than the ~300Kb I’d get from Comcast.

The modem/router Qwest gave me (an Actiontec 701) is actually pretty good, but I’m still hooking it up to a Linksys WRT54GL running OpenWRT firmware. (More on OpenWRT in a later post – I’m still learning my way around.) Things are working quite well indeed.

For a cost-saving upgrade, I really couldn’t be more pleased. Qwest’s service was excellent (despite my dread, having dealt for too long with the USWest/Qwest monopoly – perhaps they’ve improved matters since I last had trouble with a Qwest product), and the internet is still up after 24 hours. Too early to count chickens, but it’s going well for now.

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Written on July 6, 2006