August 9, 2012 8:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to a new apartment in Louisville, KY and I need to decide on some sort of internet package. AT&T is apparently what most people in the area choose, so I've been looking at their options. I think that I might want either their DSL XTREME or DSL XTREME 6.0 but I don't want to pay for more than I need. I need to be able to download and upload music and videos, and I stream a lot of television shows and movies through Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sites. I also need to be able to use Skype. Which option would be the better one?
posted by acthelight to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
As long as you've already decided to go with AT&T, start with the lower one, and upgrade if you need better performance. Someone with more experience with AT&T DSL can correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never had issues with calling up an ISP and asking them to upgrade me to a more expensive package.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2012

If you haven't gone to DSL Reports, it is well worth the visit.

Not sure if you are completely settled on DSL from your description, only that it seems to be the popular local choice. For what you have described as your needs, I think you will absolutely need the upgrades should you go that route.

I do a somewhat reasonable amount of data transferring each month for an individual (~200gb), and I found DSL just not up to the task. At least not consistently. The service could be spotty and there was an overall slowness that got to be quite annoying after a short while. A cable connection, while pricier, was a better choice in the end.

I know that most cable companies are the above ground vacation residences of the devil, but you may want to consider it. For one thing, there is always that extra phone line you have to maintain with DSL and you can be subjected to issues that crop up from earlier, inadequate wiring. If you are getting a totally clean install of the DSL wiring, it may not be an issue. However with cable, the standard has been pretty well set for a long time and can offer better service.

Downsides to using a cable company...
1) The general unpleasantness generated when dealing with any cable company
2) Paying more than DSL
3) Possible aggressive upselling by cable company reps
4) Questionable improvement in service, but that depends on your needs.

As far as the specifics of what you want to get out of broadband (Skype, Hulu, Netflix), that is all dependent on your capacity.
posted by lampshade at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2012

What's the speed on the regular XTREME? I had a 3 Mbps DSL connection for a while. It was fine for streaming video, but not particularly fast for downloading, and I really couldn't do anything else while streaming video without the video pausing and re-buffering. I just switched to 15 Mbps FiOS and it's fast like whoa, though probably more than I need.
posted by The Michael The at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2012

3 Mbps probably isn't enough to stream HD anything. Go with 6Mbps or more if you can.
posted by cnc at 9:44 AM on August 9, 2012

3Mbps DSL is borderline for Skype. I had a connection that speed until a few months ago, and upload speeds are abysmal. You'll be lucky to hit 150KBps. Skype would pop back and forth between low- and hi-def video pretty regularly. And it's not just uploads. The same thing would happen with Netflix. You'd need to manually set your software to never use HD if you want to avoid that.

I got better results with 6Mbps DSL. You'll do more like 300KBps up, which is an improvement, and downloads are adequate. 600KBps is possible. If it's a choice between those two DSL speeds, definitely go with the faster one. 6Mbps is about the minimum for delay-free use of the internet these days.

I moved as month and how use Comcast's 20Mbps cable connection. I hit 1.5MBps down pretty regularly, and my upload speed is faster than my old download speed. It's about the same price as my old connection for the first six months, and it'll be an extra $15 or so afterward, including a bare-bones TV package. I don't particularly want the latter, but the bastards have priced the bundle cheaper than just the internet alone.
posted by valkyryn at 10:00 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

One option you'll have with AT&T may be U-Verse. We have it and we get 12M on internet. We also get our TV, Phone and Cell on one bill.

It hasn't been a bed of roses. The wiring inside the house was substandard, we had the guy out last week and he put two new lines directly from the garage, where the U-verse box is, into our dining room and everything is SO much better now.

AT&T will now sell you only the DSL line ("Naked" DSL) without a voice line or any other service, which may appeal. Get the highest bandwidth you can.

Your DSL quality will depend on your wires, in the neighborhood, at your crossbox and inside your dwelling.

AT&T DSL is asynchronous, which means it's larger on the download than the upload. It'll be fine for streaming and downloads, but no-where near as large on the upload. I don't think it will affect you, but it's an FYI.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:54 AM on August 9, 2012

I'm in western KY with a 3MB ATT DSL connection. I recently downgraded from their 6MB line (which was costing $47/month) to the 3MB line after calling the company planning to cancel the line due to financial issues. After a bit of discussion, they offered to waive the two months of fees I was behind and charge me $21/month for the 3MB line for the next six months.

I haven't actually noticed any different in how I use the internet other than torrent speed being lower, but that's not a big issue. Streaming video plays just fine--no discernible difference from the 6MB line.

So, you might want to ask ATT if they have any special rates when you call. It can't hurt.
posted by mikeo2 at 5:48 PM on August 9, 2012

Take a look at Insight. It's what we use, as well as many of our friends. They have phone & TV packages if you want to add more services later. We only have internet through Insight.

So far, we've had no problems - no outages/downtime in over 3 years, online bill pay, decent customer service, etc. When we moved to a new house, we had one minor issue right at the start that they were able to fix on their end in minutes after just a 5 minute phone call.
posted by pecanpies at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2012

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