Cheapest, fastest internet in the emerald city?
May 17, 2012 12:39 PM   Subscribe

What are my options for broadband residential internet in Seattle?

We're moving from out of state at the end of June. We don't have an exact address nailed down yet but we're looking at large apartment complexes in Queen Anne and West Seattle. I assume this rules out anything like satellite or WiMax that requires hardware installation on the exterior of the building.

Is fiber to the home available anywhere in the city? I'm looking for a fairly high amount of bandwidth (I'll be working virtually and need it for remote desktop connections). How's the cable and DSL out there? I'm really burned out on the big ISPs like Comcast and CenturyLink, so info about alternatives is welcome. Cost is also a factor. My wife and I have mobile data plans with Verizon, so we'd be interested in any package deals we could take advantage of to keep expenses low (yes, I realize they are also a "big ISP" and we'd get away from them if we could keep our iPhones!).
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis to Technology (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you live in one of these buildings, there is CondoInternet. Otherwise, if you want fast consumer-priced internet, Comcast is pretty much the only realistic option at the moment, I'm afraid. There is no FiOS within city limits, and DSL, while cheaper, is relatively slower and of poorer quality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:51 PM on May 17, 2012

Megapath (formerly Speakeasy) might work. I used Speakeasy for years until awhile back when their rates became much higher that Qwest's DSL.

I'm reasonably happy with Comcast right now.
posted by ShooBoo at 1:02 PM on May 17, 2012

It's a civic embarassment, but Comcast cable and CenturyLink DSL are your only two options within the city limits of Seattle.

Accept that you cannot change this, and get the highest tier of Comcast service you can afford.
posted by Kakkerlak at 1:25 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, that really is disappointing. I had expected more from a metro of this size, especially one so entrenched in tech culture. Thanks for the help.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:29 PM on May 17, 2012

Some employers in Seattle will arrange business class internet at your home, and many larger companies (my hospital employer did) will offer some sort of discount for the main providers like Comcast or CenturyLink.
posted by halogen at 1:59 PM on May 17, 2012

You don't need your employer to arrange business class internet -- Comcast will happily take you as a business customer if you tell them you work from home. It's not something they advertise, but it is something they offer. That's what I've been doing, and the service has been much, much better than their residential service. Might as well be different companies.

You could luck out and be in an area that's well-served by DSL. I am not (though my neighbor a couple of blocks away is).

And, yes, it is profoundly embarrassing that this is the situation.
posted by hades at 2:18 PM on May 17, 2012

It's a civic embarassment, but Comcast cable and CenturyLink DSL are your only two options within the city limits of Seattle.

Not true. It depends on the building. My building in downtown Seattle has a multi-year exclusive contract with Millenial Digital Media, I mean Broadstripe, who acquired MDM, oh wait they've since been acquired by Wave Broadband. I wish I could pay Comcast; I'm stuck with CenturyLink DSL.
posted by donovan at 2:30 PM on May 17, 2012

I had Qwest DSL in Seattle. It's not great. Clearwire may be an option for you, as may Broadstripe.
posted by zvs at 2:35 PM on May 17, 2012

Oops, Qwest became CenturyLink and Broadstripe became Wave, apparently? I hope Clearwire's name hasn't changed.
posted by zvs at 2:36 PM on May 17, 2012

Yup, Clearwire is now just "Clear". Their service and performance are infamous.

The City's "Office of Cable Communications" is located in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door reading "Beware of the Leopard".
posted by Kakkerlak at 2:48 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I trialed Clearwire in downtown Seattle and agree the service was abominable.
posted by donovan at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2012

CenturyLink is slowly rolling out Fiber-to-the-node service in Seattle, or so I've heard. I spotted the equipment cabinets in our neighborhood over a year ago (or was it two) but finally got sick of waiting and switched to Comcast, which has been fine, so far. We also used their businesss service at our office for two years after giving up on DSL and were happy with it.

An apartment complex on Queen Anne has some hope of having other reasonable options, but for the most part, Seattle's ISP options are pretty crappy.
posted by Good Brain at 9:35 PM on May 17, 2012

I live in the far northern boonies and CenturyLink has indeed established fiber-to-the-node here. I would be surprised if more in-town areas did not have it available first.

I used Clear(wire) in two different incarnations and it was endlessly aggravating - WiMax signal can significantly degrade if theree are wet leaves in line-of-sight to the tower, and this is the PNW. So, yeah, you can see where that is going. On a good day, it was still faster than the pre-fiber DSL, though.

So in short, if you don't have access to CenturyLink fiber (via CenturyLink or a reseller), Comcast is pretty much your only option. The city recently formally announced they were scrapping the long-moribund municipal broadband initiative, which is par for the course, I am sorry to say.

Here's the zip-based availability info form.
posted by mwhybark at 10:48 PM on May 17, 2012

clearwire SUCKS.
posted by victory_laser at 12:32 AM on May 18, 2012

Getting in late here, but thought it worth mentioning that I've had Qwest/CenturyLink DSL for several years in N Seattle and have been fairly happy with it. Yes, it's probably less speed for the dollar compared to Comcast, but I've heard too many ugly stories about their service. By comparison, the few times I've had to interact with Qwest/CenturyLink have been pretty good. Hope whatever you get works out well for you.
posted by sapere aude at 10:30 PM on May 22, 2012

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