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  • July 19, 2018, 06:58 AM
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Author Topic: US Internet providers - suggestions needed  (Read 1302 times)

Carol Haynes

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US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« on: March 08, 2018, 04:52 PM »
I have a friend in Gaithersburg, Maryland. She is really fed up with her ISP (Comcast I think) as the speed goes up and down like a yo-yo to the point where Skype won't work properly.

As I am in the UK I know little about American providers.

Anyone any suggestions for a reliable ISP she can move to?

mouser

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2018, 04:58 PM »
comcast is an evil internet provider when it comes to cost, but your friend may have a very hard time finding a better performing provider in her area.  AT+T is another common provider but it would surprise me if they were any better performance wise.
her list of options is going to be very small and completely dependent on her local neighborhood -- i don't think anyone else not living in her immediate proximity is going to be able to offer much advice.

Deozaan

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2018, 06:38 PM »
I believe that ISPs in the US tend to have (essentially) local monopolies. There's very little competition, and out of what little competition exists, usually only the cable companies (of which there is only one in any given area) have the infrastructure to provide semi-reliable broadband speeds. The alternatives are often really crappy/slow/unreliable wireless/satellite companies. The only exception I'm aware of to this is in a few metropolitan areas or where Google Fiber is available.

Carol Haynes

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2018, 06:22 AM »
Thanks - trouble is in theory Comcast looks good - but speed is varying from good to non-existent and they seem to have outages a lot.

I will pass on the comments.

mouse53

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2018, 07:13 PM »
Where we are its Spectrum,  but we are getting 100mbps for about 30-40 a month no contract now.  AT&T gets about 6mbps and suck,  so yes Charter/Spectrum have a monopoly on the internet,  but so does our local utility for garbage, electric, water, waste water for everything else and they love to gouge.  They know you are stuck.  I hate it when mean people do mean stuff just because they can.

Shades

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2018, 09:07 AM »
Does she connect her gear with WiFi or UTP cable?

If you have the option on your computer or laptop, first try a cable connected directly to the modem device provided by your ISP before starting to complain to your ISP. That way you are sure the problem of a shoddy connection isn't caused by the WiFi setup in your friends house.

Bit of a rant:
While a monopoly is indeed a bad thing for digital/analog goods delivered to the customer, with regards to internet access the customer isn't always aware that they themselves (unconsciously) can be just as problematic towards their internet connection as their ISP can be. Especially with consumer-grade WiFi devices you can get into a lot of trouble.

If you are able to connect by UTP cable to the modem and there is suddenly no problem accessing sites and whatever else she needs/wants to do on the internet, the ISP is already not to blame, they only have to provide the internet at speeds agreed upon for the contract that exists between your friend and her ISP. Anything more is goodwill on the end of the ISP.

With WiFi, there are some ground rules to follow. If you do, you build a much more stable WiFi network setup, even with consumer-grade WiFi devices. Usually you start by disabling WiFi on the modem of the ISP and bring the internet signal by 1 UTP cable to a much more optimal place in your house for better WiFi coverage. Get a decent WiFi router and connect the UTP cable from the modem to this router. One single cable is easy enough to work out of sight.

Most people here will know already, but for clarity: do not use the WAN port on this router! Ever! Because if you do, you create a double NAT setup, which will make troubleshooting WiFi issues a real pain in the behind. Tape over that port, glue it shut, whatever you think is best to prevent future mishaps. If you have a lot of area to cover, you could use another single UTP cable to connect another WiFi router. When you use more than one WiFi device, do not use the same channel and preferably also not the same name.

For any WiFi device select manually channel 1 or 6 or 11. No other channels should be used. Coordinate with your neighbors to do the same on their WiFi devices if you have to. If you do, their WiFi coverage will improve as well, for no costs.

Carol Haynes

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2018, 12:55 PM »
I don't think that is the problem - they seem to have a lot of acknowledged down time at her building. She is just getting fed up with random 'we have a problem and will fix it soon' type responses on an almost weekly basis.

Shades

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2018, 10:17 PM »
Do neighboring buildings have the same issues as her building does? If not, then the cause must be in the building. Network sniffing could also be a good idea. Tools like WireShark and NetworkMiner give you a very detailed overview from what is actually happening on the network. WireShark is the most extensive, but you need to know what you are looking at. Because if you don't you will "drown" in the huge amounts of data presented on your computer.

What is handy from WireShark is the coloring of lines. An occasional black line during a capture of 10 minutes or something like that, it's not good, but should not affect the internet experience too much. But if you get large amounts of those, like I got when my line was just installed, you are having serious problems. However, with a bit of understanding, you can identify in which part of the internet connection things go wrong.


Spoiler
Well, over the years people here in PY and NL hired my services for connecting their home to their ISP, but also to fix the mess of the previous "tech", whether that may have been themselves, the kid next door, a niece/nephew etc.

Double NAT I always encounter. Lots of overlapping signals/channels too. Shoddy UTP cabling too (with non-standard lengths of cable), cable modems attached to rusted coax connectors, (very) old model coax connectors provided by the cable company years ago. Sometimes even the cardinal sin, a signal amplifier between coax connector and cable modem. All big no-no's and things you can rather easily fix yourself.

In NL cable companies (still) operate under similar monopoly rules/regulations as the US. However, they do mention which type/model of coax connector you must use in combination with their modem. And no, even if a new but different type/model connector is installed by the owner of the building, you will still get a crappy internet connection. Those connectors are really not made all equal, even though they appear to look the same. Shoddy workmanship with the correct type/model of connector? Yep, another way to get a (very) crappy internet connection. If you get a visit from a tech in NL, that is always the first thing they check.

Of course, it is possible that there is a problem getting internet to the building over the remainder from the network of the cable ISP. And that is indeed something they will need to fix. However, the "last mile" between ISP and a home is more often the cause of crappy internet connections. To clarify: in NL all lines for coax, electricity, telephone, gas and water to a home are put into the ground. Makes all those networks extremely reliable. And that includes internet through cable modems, glass fiber and copper phone-lines. Cable companies normally use 1 small, grey metal box per street to provide each house with a coax signal. And as long as nobody crashes their car/truck into those, they work well.

The last house I called home in NL, was a house that was already 50 years old. Still, after the cable company upgraded their little grey box for the neighborhood and me replacing the coax connector for a supported model, my cable internet connection worked flawlessly. And that was over 20 year old coax cable between the grey box in the street and the house. Keeping the cable modem as close as possible to the coax connector is also very helpful and from that point on using a CAT5e UTP cable to a router/switch physically about 10 meters removed from the coax connector (but I needed almost 25 meters of UTP cable to work it out of sight).

In four years I had no issues with that setup and then I became an expat in PY...where all lines for electricity, telephone, coax and fiber are above ground. Very unreliable. So much so, that most ISPs use WiMax for interconnecting neighborhoods instead. Such service is also available for normal residences too. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that WiMax is practically as reliable as a cabled network. Especially compared with the misery that are consumer grade WiFi devices.

Sorry for another long rant.  :-[


 

 

Carol Haynes

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2018, 03:20 AM »
The ISP acknowledges the issues - seems to be at their end which is why she is looking to change.

xtabber

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2018, 04:57 PM »
Verizon FIOS (fiber) is supposedly available in most of Gaithersburg, MD., and is generally considered far more reliable (and faster) than Xfinity (Comcast) cable. She should contact Verizon to find out whether her home can get it.  RCN also supposedly has fiber service in parts of Gaithersburg.

Carol Haynes

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Re: US Internet providers - suggestions needed
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2018, 06:36 PM »
Verizon FIOS (fiber) is supposedly available in most of Gaithersburg, MD., and is generally considered far more reliable (and faster) than Xfinity (Comcast) cable. She should contact Verizon to find out whether her home can get it.  RCN also supposedly has fiber service in parts of Gaithersburg.

Thanks I will let her know