Choices for DSL service … a thing of the past

The quality of DSL service in my neighborhood has been described by a few techs in the know as “a black hole”. I’ve been paying for a 1.5 Mbps line for a bit over two years, and usually get about 90% of it. Which is fine, I understand that there are service issues here, and for several months the service has been quite reliable. In total I pay a bit over $40 monthly for my internet service.

Recently, I had a service outage. After the usual rebooting and whatnot, a Qwest tech came out and told me that the new fiber service that Qwest is installing was interfering with my signal strength. He fiddled with some stuff for a bit, I got a firmware update on my Actiontec DSL modem. Everything was normal for a while. After a couple weeks, the service speed dropped again. This time, the Qwest tech’s came out, gave me a new modem and fiddled with my in-house wiring a bit and my service was restored again.

Everything was fine for almost a month. Last week my DSL modem showed my line speed at 512 Kbps, fully 1/3 of what I’m paying for. “Ok, fine,” I said, “I’ll just call up Qwest again and figure out what needs to happen.” The tech called me after a bit and said there was nothing that she could do. The other techs had already tested the line and fiddled with the wiring and given me a new modem. Again, I was told that the new fiber service was at fault. Apparently the fiber lines cause spectral interference (also known as crosstalk) with the standard DSL signal, reducing it’s strength. I was also told that each person that signs up for the fiber service in my area will further reduce my line speed, and that the only solution to the problem would be to switch to the fiber service myself.

So, I called my ISP. They said that quite a few of their customers were in the same boat, and that there was nothing they could do about it. They weren’t real happy about it either. I called Qwest back, and after about 2 hours talking with their referral department, billing department, customer service department, internet sales department, and loyalty department, they told me that it was really unfortunate that I had to switch, that they were really sorry, and offered me a 50% credit on my bill for the next 3 months (which they will recover in about 4 months if I switch to fiber). Ironically, while I was on the phone with them, my DSL speed dropped again to 384 Kbps.

So, I’m considering my options. I either have to switch to fiber with Qwest and pay more money, or switch to my local (err, national) cable internet provider, Comcast, and pay more money. In both cases I have to leave my existing internet provider.

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