For the last few weeks I've been wrestling with my new AT&T U-Verse DSL service and outlined my travails here in Gearhead (here and here) after which you might have assumed all would be well, that AT&T would have pulled out all the stops and sorted out my issues. Alas, this week I'm no happier and, apparently, neither are many of you.
So, where am I today with my DSL? I'm not sure. Last week they declared my line was good for 6Mbps, then they decided it wasn't and dropped it to 3Mbps. Not content to rest on their laurels, yesterday they changed their minds once again and decided it would work at 6Mbps. They have also swapped which pair to the central office I'm using, changed my in-house wiring, theorized that "line taps" were the problem and, I presume, removed them and -- sigh -- we're still not in a happy place.
I just checked my connection using speedtest.net and discovered that my speed down is a pathetic 0.57Mbps and my speed up is -- be still my beating heart -- 0.04Mbps.
And then there's Wi-Fi. For no obvious reason, the Wi-Fi access point in the DSL modem (a Motorola NVG510) started to refuse connections, which only a restart of the Wi-Fi service could fix. Yesterday the techs replaced the modem and yesterday afternoon the same thing happened again!
Over this same period the average latency to various sites I'm monitoring with PingPlotter have increased by 20 to 30 times over what I was seeing three days ago! For example, I'm seeing a ping time for att.com of over 1,000ms instead of the 45ms it used to be (which wasn't particularly great anyway).
Anyway, a positive flood of ISP horror stories has been pouring in. Reader Ben Myers wrote, "I read your DSL column in the latest Network World, and I marvel at the complete ineptitude of AT&T in managing your DSL connection. I provide support for a lot of Verizon DSL customers around here, both business and consumer, and Verizon seems to have gotten it right with DSL. Have you ever considered changing ISPs? Is it possible in the remote wilds of Ventura, CA? Does anybody offer cable Internet?"
Yes, I have considered switching ISPs but what choices do I have? Only AT&T offers DSL service in this area. Satellite? It's too expensive and the latency is brutal ... that would be a desperation choice. Cable? While it seems to be somewhat more reliable than DSL, I've heard many horror stories of how over-subscribed cable service can be with, for instance, significant slowdowns when the neighborhood children get back from school. Even so, maybe I should try it.
Luckily, I don't have a contract with AT&T (so there's no early termination fee) so I could try out my local Time Warner cable service (Charter is the cable provider at the other end of town ... yep, that's competition for you). I could have a 10Mbps down, 1Mbps up service for $30 per month, which compares favorably to AT&T's U-verse "Elite" service that provides 6Mbps down and 0.5Mbps up and costs $25 per month. I must poll my neighbors to see what they're using and if they are happy.
Keep writing in with your tales of how your ISP has made your life more interesting and your thoughts on DSL vs. cable. As for my existing service ... I'm praying it will get fixed before the next Gearhead.
Gibbs is on his digital knees in Ventura, Calif. Send your tales of tech torment to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).
Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.