Sure I'm selling my soul, but the download speeds are so damn fast!
March 30, 2011 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Due to Comcast and Verizon's opposition to Net Neutrality, I want to take my internet and wireless business elsewhere. Problem: I switched to both services to get faster connection/better coverage, and it worked. Are there any alternatives that would keep me well-connected?

As this comment says, "Everyone likes to bitch about Comcast and Verizon, but nobody ever cancels their service." Well, I've wanted to cancel my service ever since the most recent row over Net Neutrality, but I can't find an ISP and cellular provider that get the me the speed of Comcast or the speed + coverage of Verizon.

I'm in Chicago and I used to have RCN internet, which isn't a giant like Comcast, but connection speeds weren't great and they wanted to charge me too much to add cable TV. I switched, and my experience has been nothing but good.

I used to have AT&T for my cell phone, but coverage wasn't great. With Verizon I have much faster speeds, no dropped calls, and 3G coverage in more places.

Do I have any options that will keep me nearly as happy, but won't lead me to support giant anti-Neutrality corporations? I want a fast Internet connection, and I want 4G wireless (I'm already eyeing the Droid Bionic), and Comcast and Verizon seem to be the only options for those needs.
posted by Tehhund to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're looking for a unicorn. Nobody cancels their service because there are no alternatives to switch to.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:55 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Short version: Yes and no.

Long version:

For LTE 4G you have... Verizon, and maybe AT&T later this year. Sprint's 4G service (actually WiMax) is pretty good, and Sprint has been relatively open-minded because of their last-place position, but they're still an enormous company, and because they're still CDMA-based, you have fewer device options on their network. T-mobile has been the best as far as net neutrality goes, but switching right before they're swallowed into AT&T would be pretty pointless.

For fast home access, you have RCN (which kind of sucks, speedwise), AT&T (which also sucks), Clear (which is fine for light usage but you'll get terribly throttled during peak times and their latency is pretty bad, so gaming and anything real-time is out) and Comcast (which I subscribe to reluctantly as well).
posted by Oktober at 10:56 AM on March 30, 2011

Both posters above are correct. There's no decent alternative yet, but keep an eye on 4G LTE -- the numbers so far rival the low end of my cable internet connection. The problem is that usage is seriously capped, and will remain so at least until it becomes more commonplace.

Could you share a hotspot with a neighbor (or 3) and split the cost? Then you're at least lessening the amount you support these evil, evil companies.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:05 AM on March 30, 2011

I have clear and it isn't bad, plus it is much less than the other providers.
posted by cestmoi15 at 11:13 AM on March 30, 2011

AT&T is also anti-net-neutrality, of course. Sprint is the only major carrier that hasn't been active in opposing it, but their plan is to have LTE launched by late 2013 (!).
posted by wildcrdj at 11:42 AM on March 30, 2011

Clear (which is fine for light usage but you'll get terribly throttled during peak times and their latency is pretty bad, so gaming and anything real-time is out)

I'm pretty sure Sprint owns a minority stake in Clear, and Clear is using Sprint's WiMax network to do their mobile broadband. I also remember reading something way, way back that Chicago was one of Sprint's test beds for 4G, so you might have good luck with them. I'm very happy with Sprint's 4G service in Providence RI, which is a pretty small market as compared to Chicago.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:14 PM on March 30, 2011

You're completely right SweetJesus, but what's acceptable for mobile isn't necessarily acceptable for home broadband. Sprint 4G has been very good in Chicago when I've tried it, but I test drove Clear for a week and not being able to stream netflix or play anything on Xbox Live was a deal breaker.
posted by Oktober at 12:41 PM on March 30, 2011

Best answer: I can absolutely relate.

About a year ago, I decided to unburden my conscience of partially financing Verizon's political/ethical/social malfeasance and terminated my service once my contract expired. With (probably unrealisticaly) high expectations, I took up with Credo, which uses Sprint's network but is strongly free-speech and liberal to the point of having an excellent political action wing. Unfortunately, the quality and value of their service has failed to match with the alignment of my values with their business/social practices. Simply put, you're paying a significant premium for substandard Sprint service. I regret no longer having my Verizon coverage, if I can't bring myself to go back. By virtue of their and other large telecos size and power, they can deliver a better (at least in monetary value) product.

Did the same things with Speakeasy for internet a few years before that. The service was actually pretty excellent while it worked, and the customer support was first-rate, but for some reason the network was always going down. While I'm sure they've improved that (they operate their own robust network, and it was the public lines that were always having difficulty) now, it was very expensive then and I suspect still is. They're more of a business provider, anyways: I read that the company has merged with MegaPath/BestBuy, too, so their independence may be compromised.

TL:DR: I empathize with your plight. You can actualize your personal beliefs by paying a premium for likely inferior service to the few more ethical companies that do exist, but you might accomplish as much change by donating to FreePress or another non-profit for media freedom. Still, it stings not to be able to deprive those companies of your dollars for their nasty practices: I know that well.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you the best!
posted by alexandermatheson at 10:49 PM on March 30, 2011

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