____less in Seattle
May 2, 2011 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Please help me get connected in Seattle.

I'm moving to Seattle from Edmonton, Canada in about... well, 5 days, really. I've got most aspects of the move lined up, but I have a few questions about connectivity on which I'd rather seek the voice of experience... or AskMe, whichever is faster. In brief, those questions are:
  1. What is the fastest and best way to get an AT&T account for my iPhone?
  2. What ISP should I use?
Regarding the iPhone, I currently have a Rogers phone which I'll be unlocking, so I don't need a contract or anything, but I do need a minimum of 500Mb/mo data and good US->Canada long distance calling as well as the usual niceties. If possible, I'd love to get this set up on the way in from the airport to downtown Seattle. Basically, I need a monthly plan and a SIM card.

Regarding the ISP, I want an ISP that provides fast tubes and doesn't much care what's in the fast tubes they provide (wink, wink). I'm not interested in a race to the bottom, pricewise, but cheaper is obviously preferable.
posted by ChrisR to Technology (12 answers total)
Where will you live? You may not have a ton of choices of ISP. (For example, there are parts of Beacon Hill where your only choices are Broadstripe and Clear, because there is no workable DSL service, and if those are your choices I feel sorry for you. I live in one of those pockets myself, and it's not fun -- though Broadstripe has improved a bit in the last year.)
posted by litlnemo at 7:52 AM on May 2, 2011

On the ISP front, I would highly recommend avoiding Broadstripe if you can. They serve about 10% of Seattle cable customers and have a horrible reputation.
posted by rube goldberg at 7:53 AM on May 2, 2011

In my part of Seattle, the only workable broadband choices are Comcast or Qwest. Comcast is much faster for the same price, but are also actively customer hostile - you probably don't want them if transfer limits or types of traffic are a concern to you.

Personally, I stick to Qwest not out of any loyalty, but simply because Comcast is so horrible. Clear is an option, but not one that I have any experience with.

As for the iPhone - was it sold carrier unlocked? If not, you may have trouble moving to At&t (in that it may not be possible unless you jailbreak/unlock). If that isn't a factor, I imagine that a switch is as easy as stopping into the nearest At&t store to sign up for new service.
posted by owls at 8:15 AM on May 2, 2011

If the phone is unlocked, you shouldn't limit yourself to AT&T. (My iPhone -- a Canadian iPhone 4 that we bought unlocked -- works beautifully with T-Mobile.) But I'm not sure what the best solution for you getting set up right away is. As far as AT&T is concerned, there is an AT&T store in Pacific Place Mall, which is just two blocks from Westlake Station -- so if you are taking the Link train in from the airport, take it all the way to the end, get out, go upstairs and walk East two blocks on Pine, then go into Pacific Place and down the escalator to the AT&T store.

If you are driving, there might be another location more convenient (there may be one near Southcenter, I think).

Whether AT&T has any plans that serve your needs, I don't know.
posted by litlnemo at 8:25 AM on May 2, 2011

(Oh, regarding the iPhone and T-Mobile... I said it works beautifully, and it does, but I forgot that it doesn't support 3G on T-Mobile's network. I keep forgetting about that since I've never had 3G, so I don't miss it. Much. So maybe AT&T is a better option if you want 3G.)
posted by litlnemo at 8:28 AM on May 2, 2011

Uh, yeah, 3G is pretty much a requirement.

I will be unlocking my phone -- by hook or by crook or by feeding Rogers another $50 -- just before I leave.

How is Verizon FIOS? It's probably going to be available where I'll be living (West Seattle or Greenlake are the two current candidates).
posted by ChrisR at 9:22 AM on May 2, 2011

If you can get FIOS (which is pretty limited but possible), I highly recommend it. It will be your fastest option.

Dealing with Verizon tech support is a pain, and make sure you keep copies of your statements. They've been known to send things to collections quite erroneously.

But I'd still get FIOS if I could.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:52 AM on May 2, 2011

Verizon FIOS isn't available in Greenlake. Your best bet here from a price to performance ratio is probably still (ugh) Comcast. Qwest has started bringing fiber to the node into the neighborhood, but it's still DSL to your house. For a bit more on Comcast you can get the business class which is slightly less bad in terms of how they treat you, but otherwise more or less identical to the residential service.

If you want fast internet you need to live downtown. I love my backyard, but I sure would love a hundred meg pipe in my house.
posted by lantius at 12:15 PM on May 2, 2011

Parts of Redmond and Woodway have FIOS too. It's a crap-shoot, but you can check their website for your particular address.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:31 PM on May 2, 2011

I have FIOS. It's not Verizon. Verizon sold our neighborhood to Frontier Communications. We have Frontier FIOS, TV, and landline.
The comm services have been mostly fine. However, Frontier has the absolute worst customer service I have ever encountered. WORSE than Comcast! We have a couple minor issues that we just can't seem to get fixed. The Frontier customer service process is janky, opaque, and broken in every way.
posted by valannc at 3:22 PM on May 2, 2011

To do a monthly plan on AT&T, you need to use their prepaid gophone service. A 500mb/month data plan is $25, plus texting/calling/whatever. Here's that information. You could also look at AT&T mvnos for slightly better plans, but if time is of the essence then you probably don't want that.
posted by R a c h e l at 7:09 PM on May 2, 2011

+1 on Frontier being a complete mess. One time while I was trying to navigate their customer service phone tree, I got a "this number has been disconnected or is no longer in service." They're a phone company. If they can't keep their own phone system working, well.....

I had Comcast internet service for over six years in the Seattle, until I moved out of state (I now have Time Warner). I know it's an unpopular opinion, but overall I was quite satisfied with them. The speed was always higher than advertised (at the end I was paying for the 22mbps service and was consistently getting 25mbps+, even for long transfers). The few times I had to call them for something, they were friendly and helpful. And I never encountered problems with things being throttled or hitting bandwidth caps. Of course, I don't use bittorrent, run servers, etc. If you're looking to do those things, it's possible your experience will be quite different -- I can only speak to what I saw.

BTW, the Frontier telco techs caused one of the only Comcast outages I ever had when they inadvertantly (and completely unknowingly) disconnected my cable when they were trying to fix something for my neighbor. According to Comcast, they shouldn't have even been messing around in that box, but who knows. I do know that the techs adamantly denied that they had anything to do with it and the people I called on the phone denied that their techs were even out there (even though it said Frontier on the truck).
posted by sharding at 7:20 PM on May 2, 2011

« Older How to apply for PhDs in Germany, from the UK?   |   Is uncertainty ontological or epistemological (or... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.