Monkeybrains vs. Comcast/Wave in (Mission) San Francisco
May 13, 2015 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Will be moving to the Mission, trying to decide between my internet options. Monkeybrains is cheap, local, awesome, but not as fast as Comcast, who suck, are expensive, but very fast. Do you have experience with either?

I'd like to go with the Monkeys, but I just don't know if they're fast enough (8-20ish Mbps, depending on where you are). Cable is much faster (55 or 100 Mbps guaranteed), but also double to triple the price. Plus I'd be giving money to Comcast, who I dislike greatly. I don't know anything about Wave as a company. I can't get Sonic.

So, where are you, who do you have, and what speeds are you seeing? I'd love to hear from Monkeybrains customers especially.
posted by danny the boy to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I've got Wave cable in Seattle. They seem to be a reasonable company, but I don't think they run their network as well as Comcast on average, though worst case performance has typically been better (but sometimes bad).
posted by wotsac at 6:02 PM on May 13, 2015

I have Astound - which just was rebranded Wave - in San Francisco, and both network performance and customer service have been quite good. Speeds have been as advertised. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.

While I've been interested in Monkeybrains' service in the past, my place is out of range, so I haven't been able to give them a try. Other friends have had similar situations, where they've been out of range or their landlords wouldn't let them install an antenna where it'd be in line with Monkeybrains' transmitter. You'll definitely want to check with both Monkeybrains and your future landlord or HOA on specifics with the place you're moving into to be certain if Monkeybrains is a possibility.

The cost of getting Wave and Monkeybrains will probably end up fairly similar after a year. Buying a cable modem outright and getting Wave installed should cost around $100-$150 vs. the $250 for the Monkeybrains antenna and install. Wave's 55/5 mbps is $40/month vs Monkeybrains' $35/month for 8-20 mbps symmetrical.

Do be aware that Wave does have a 300GB/month cap for the 55/5 and 105/5 plans, and 1TB for the 110/10 plan. That's fine for me, but your mileage may vary.

I have so far managed to avoid Comcast here, which I don't regret in the slightest. I know several people in Oakland who have been weathering continual Comcast outages, although some SF friends have had acceptable Comcast experiences. My feeling is that either Wave or Monkeybrains is a far better bet if you can get them.
posted by eschatfische at 7:40 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

We have monkeybrains at work and it's been good. At home I have Comcast and I hate them. One the one hand it's relatively cheap and we were wired for it but we've had a lot of trouble with their service. We'd have intermittent slowdowns where the internet would get too slow for streaming for a hour or two and we never figured out the case after a zillion calls and 5+ service visits. It seems better now but who knows.
posted by oneear at 7:46 PM on May 13, 2015

Is sonic an option for your location?
posted by gingerbeer at 10:04 PM on May 13, 2015

Nevermind. I just saw the part where you said it wasn't.

I've contemplated monkeybrains, but haven't tried it out yet.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:05 PM on May 13, 2015

I've had Comcast in SF and now Berkeley and the service has been pretty much flawless, I'm on their 100Mbps plan and I've run speed tests at 90Mbps down and 20+up

I have to have DSL for my office in SF (using Sonic) and I can't get anywhere near those speeds.

Long story short I'd stick with cable (Wave/Comcast) if speed is your main criteria.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:07 PM on May 13, 2015

I have Wave/Astound in SF and am very happy. Comcast is the devil, do not make a contract with them. Monkeybrains are good people but wireless is bad juju.
posted by Nelson at 10:19 PM on May 13, 2015

Hmm, I've seen 50+ mbps from Monkeybrains on campus in SOMA. Perhaps they have faster gear for business class? I'll ask someone I know who works there.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2015

Our neighbor (tall house) has monkeybrains. Her internet etc is amazing. I live next door (short house) and have xfinity. It sucks.

I will say that monkeybrains is almost without a doubt vastly better than the other big options by any measure, but they're still a small company. When we moved to our current place, I had about a week to find out if I could possibly switch to their service (I work from home and that's my org's requisite: show us your new place has reliable internet that can handle x, y, z or switch to working from an office). It was... not easy, or very pleasant, to find out if our house was in the signal range. We got a couple brush off emails that had our address wrong, and the replies weren't really too nice when we tried to correct the company and ask again. After a few days of radio silence, I sent a follow-up email to them with maybe three questions (including one that was along the lines of "our neighbor has an antenna that's getting your signal and she'd be happy if we could share the antenna--we want to throw money at you, how can we make this work?") and got a very brusque answer to none and all of them at once that just read, "your house isn't in the line of sight." No greater detail. We decided it'd be best to just bite the bullet and go with the shitty xfinity service.

One day I'd like to be able to graduate to monkeybrains, but that day will be in a future that finds them less understaffed and maybe a little more willing to engage prospective customers who have quirky situations. If you're very clearly in their signal's range and don't have complex questions for them, I'd sign up in a heartbeat.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:37 AM on May 14, 2015

My friend at Monkeybrains is getting 30 mbps up/down, in the Richmond, on a residential setup. Most people get well over 8 mbps.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:51 AM on May 14, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks guys! I think what I'll do is give Monkeybrains a shot and switch to Wave if the speed is a problem.
posted by danny the boy at 7:32 PM on May 14, 2015

I had Monkeybrains in SF and they were SCARY fast. I had to get permission from my landlord to install the thing on the roof, but they had no problem. Also, they charged me an initial $40 or so, but never bothered to send me another bill. Love Monkeybrains!

They have a transmitter on top of the old US Bank building @ 21(?) and Mission which is the tallest building nearby. I was at 24th and Valencia and couldn't've been happier.
posted by bendy at 7:13 PM on May 17, 2015

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