Thursday, April 08, 2004

Broadband Buffet

I’m about to be internet decapitated. Right now, I’m connected through traditional dial-up, which is quite unpleasant from the standpoint of someone who used to be on a campus T1 line. Soon, I'll be moving out, and will have no connection at all. So, I’ve started doing some research for when I’m ready to fork out for my own (practically) personal broadband connection.

I have a friend who’s used DSL and cable internet, and he speaks quite highly of the latter, and has little but complaints about the former. Another friend is using DSL, which is good for him but he has found himself running into some equipment related problems that I’d rather not face. Basically, I’m looking for good bandwidth on a reliable connection that I can configure to allow outside machines to connect to my machine at a consistent IP address (or URL, if that’s what it takes).

My first choice is cable internet. There is a company in the area who is the sole provider of this type of service, and they are marketing it aggressively. A few months ago, as I was leaving school, I called them up to find out if their service was available at home. It wasn’t, but they had a projected date, which they not only met, but they had service up a few months early. If only I had the means to pay for internet here. At my new apartment, I was given the number of this company on a list of local utilities. I called them, and was told that, while they do have cable television in my area, cable internet is not available, nor do they have any plans to change that. Then, they had the gall to ask me if I wanted to sign up for the cable. I have no interest in paying them any money if they can’t get me a good broadband connection.

I can’t believe that they’ve twice failed to cover me as I move. It’s not like I’m moving to the sticks. I’m in the middle of the largest city of the most densely populated county in the state. I’m especially galled because I know that their service would meet all of my qualifications, probably better than anyone else’s would.

Next up is DSL. I am not as big a fan of this one, since it tends to shut itself off after a period of time, and it’s not as fast as cable. The prices are only slightly less, so the financial savings aren’t that attractive. I’d like to add that it’s not available at my current address (and it wouldn’t be a very viable method, since we have about ten phone jacks that have phones plugged in to them right now, and that means a lot of filters). It is the front runner right now. I’ll have to accept less bandwidth, but then I would be the only power user, and so it’s probably quite reasonable. The nearest DSL station is about 2 miles away, which should be close enough to get service, but I can’t get any confirmation of that from the DSL provider because I don’t have a phone number connected yet. (I’m also not going to ask anybody at the phone company for an autograph. They’re a bunch of pricks on a good day, and I haven’t had many good days with them yet.)

There’s a new third contender. It’s a wireless internet service based about thirty miles south. They claim to offer 1.5 Mbps up and down, which is far more than cable or DSL can offer (at least at rates that I can justify paying for it). I’m concerned about whether or not they offer mailboxes, the nature of the IP address they’d give me, and whether or not I’d need to mount any extra equipment. I’ll be in an apartment complex, and I doubt that they’d approve of me putting an antenna on the roof. They are less than a lot of DSL services, so it may not be so bad.

Whatever I get, It will be a while before it’s up and running. So, until then, I’ll be quieter than usual. Hopefully, I’ll one day be back to the point where Jake and I are shooting a dozen emails a day.

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