I hate AT&T, but who doesn't?
May 2, 2011 8:30 AM   Subscribe

In a bind: clear home internet vs AT&T dsl. I have a couple hours to decide. (Chicago, in particular. But general coverage experiences welcome.)

Reliability? Speed? Does it actually get worse than AT&T dsl? AT&T anything?
posted by crankyrogalsky to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
My experience in Chicago and what I hear from friends is Comcast is fastest. Friends with AT&T DSL are switching this week. They say they click a link and go do something else while it loads. I'd love to be rid of Comcast but I don't see a reliable, fast alternative.
posted by Bunglegirl at 8:50 AM on May 2, 2011

I'm in Brooklyn, not Chicago -- but AT&T DSL was a total bust for me. I had huge connectivity problems, but every time I got a tech to come out and investigate, they said they could find no problem with my phone line. (And I'm not even getting into the fact that getting the techs to my apartment was a mess in and of itself, because the initial sales guy listed my address as something completely different and the techs would go there instead, find me not there, and cancel on me.)

As near as I can figure -- my phone line had interference which was just significant enough to mess with my DSL, but not significant enough to be detected by the phone line. After a month or so of first trying to convince AT&T that something actually was wrong with my line, then trying to convince them that it didn't have anything to do with the lines connecting to my house (which were handled by Verizon, so they kept trying to palm it off on them so it wouldn't be their problem) but something about the lines in my house (which was AT&T's issue), I finally just got cable internet and called it a day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on May 2, 2011

In my experience, Clear is one of the few companies with worse customer service than AT&T.

That's saying something.

Also, there are numerous reports of Clear heavily throttling people who have the audacity to actually use their "wireless broadband" as though it were... well... broadband.

AT&T may suck -- ok, so they *do* suck -- but Clear is worse.
posted by -1 at 9:12 AM on May 2, 2011

In Chicago...

Comcast is fastest but has the worst customer service and the most downtime.

AT&T "regular" DSL is okay but slower than cable obviously, and their customer service sucks too. Dry-loop DSL has a different customer service team so is better than "regular" DSL.

RCN is fine for cable internet. Not as fast as Comcast but less downtime in my experience. Customer service is 9-5 M-F only which sucks. I have RSN and have been generally happy with them.

Speakeasy isn't cheap, but it's the best service in town if you can afford it.
posted by juniperesque at 9:17 AM on May 2, 2011

I have had Clear in the Chicago suburbs for 9 months. Their customer service is not great - during the order process they promised a deal but then didn't deliver until I called several times to hold them to it - but their actual internet service has been very good.

We use the connection to stream a lot of stuff - Netflix on Apple TV, ESPN3 on Xbox 360, youtube, Amazon VOD, etc. - and it has been good with limited exception.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2011

Your experience with Clear will vary depending on what kind of building you live in. House? Two/three flat? Low-rise, mid-rise, high-rise? Brick or concrete construction?
posted by devinemissk at 9:46 AM on May 2, 2011

Be prepared to break that little Clear box they give you, and trying to get a new one seems to be either moderately annoying or a special circle of hell, depending on which of my two friends who have Clear tells their story. Both of them ended up without internet for awhile, a day vs about three days.
posted by mrs. taters at 10:26 AM on May 2, 2011

Response by poster: I can't even talk about comcast without ending upon the fetal position rocking back and forth.

I have AT&T DSL and it's bad but cheap. But they screwed up royally and I thought about canceling the whole thing - clear was the only viable option.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 10:47 AM on May 2, 2011

Clear is in financial trouble and their network is completely saturated. Their insanely aggressive sales force will promise you the sun, the moon, and the stars, and yet when you get it in your home you will realize how awful it is only to find out how awful their customre service is when you call to complain.

Comcast and AT&T both suck equally and AT&T just started throttling as of today. You can read details in the article on Ars Technica.

As a fellow Chicagoan, I HIGHLY recommend RCN out of all the options here in the city. I am a heavy bandwidth user. I game and download a large number of torrents and upgraded to RCN's 20 down/2 up plan since I have an incredibly low rate that I was grandfathered into. You'll pay more, but it will be worth it if you like using the internet like a normal person as they do not throttle (as far as anybody is aware), they have not announced any plans for caps (we'll see how long that lasts), and as of yet they have not given up people's info to the RIAA/MPAA for copyright infringement (stance on the issue aside, I prefer my ISP to not rat me out).

You will frequently get their India-based customer service department but can get escalated to the US. Unfortunately the folks in their India center are idiots, unable to grasp basic things. But I'll take them over Comcast or the others any day of the week.
posted by Elminster24 at 8:04 PM on May 2, 2011

I use AT&T Uverse and it's fast enough as long as I'm not using their DNS. Their billing on the other hand has been wrong every god damn month and calling them is on par with bashing my head into a wall. Luckily I signed up in a store and I have the guy's card, so I just go find him once a month.
posted by mike_bling at 9:20 AM on May 3, 2011

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