Comcast vs. DirecTV in Seattle Eastside?
April 20, 2006 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Comcast vs. DirecTV in Seattle Eastside? I'm moving soon and need advice on telephone, internet and television.

Need advice and a best plan of action. I currently have DirecTV+ TiVo, DSLExtreme and SBC phones in SoCal. I'm fairly happy with this arrangement.

I'm moving to Sammamish, WA and need to re-evaluate my set-up.

DirecTV has a promotion in which they will install a dish at the new house in exchange for keeping their service for one year. A similar service on Comcast seems to be about the same price (give or take), but Comcast does not have a channel lineup currently available on their site.

Moreover, Comcast also offers all-in-one packages of television, cable-based broadband and telephone services. This seems like it could be very good or very painful.

* Anyone have any experience on the all-in-one Comcast service?
* Does inclement weather in the Seattle area ruin satellite service very often?
* Any other general pieces of advice?
posted by frogan to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
Comcast's Internet phone service is "just" $40 a month, which is $15 more expensive than Vonage and more than twice the price of SunRocket. And it's MORE expensive if you don't also have Comcast's Internet service. However, they do use a separate channel for the VOIP so it can never be impacted by your Internet connection, which is nice in theory, but I've never needed it with my SunRocket service since I got my D-Link DGL-4300 router.

I have had DirecTV for more than five years. (I have one of the first DirecTV TiVo units.) Inclement weather sometimes knocks my dish off-axis but this shouldn't be much of a factor if you have it professionally installed and permanently mounted. I've never really had any rain fade per se. The biggest pain has been having to choose places to live based on whether there's proper exposure for the dish and a good place to run the cables into the house.

I do have Comcast business Internet service. This service is kind of pricey but it's been good. They just reduced the price (or rather they bumped the service levels up enough so I can choose the cheaper level and be satisfied). If you can get Speakeasy DSL where you're moving, they have good service too, although it's far from the cheapest their policies are very friendly (two static IPs, they let you run a server, and they allow you to share wirelessly and will even set up a captive portal and split the revenues with you if that's what you want -- though you're also free to give it away). Speakeasy also offers a bundled phone service with end-to-end prioritization of your VOIP packets if you want that too, and their unlimited calling area encompasses an amazing 22 countries. Nice. I want to get Speakeasy at the next place I live, frankly.
posted by kindall at 4:58 PM on April 20, 2006

Comcast blocks competing VOIP users.

I talked my dad into switching from dialup to Comcast Cable service in Placerville CA. After making the switch, he was no longer able to use Skype for VOIP. It worked fine on dialup, but was cutting out on cable. I researched a bit, and found that this is a common complaint about Comcast on the Vonage forums.

So, if you are going Comcast for internet, it sounds like they force you into their VOIP solution as well. Anticompetitive behaviour in action.
posted by Manjusri at 5:06 PM on April 20, 2006

Eh, I doubt they're doing it on purpose, the latency is probably just too high when all the kiddies in your neighborhood are bittorrenting the latest anime. If they wanted to really block it, that'd certainly be easy enough.
posted by kindall at 5:25 PM on April 20, 2006

I know this isn't what you were asking, but I cannot speak highly enough of the almighty SPEAKEASY, from right here in our little town.

Great ISP (they encourage network sharing!), offer VoIP, let you run a server, and are genuinely good peeps.

I {heart} Speakeasy
posted by ImJustRick at 5:25 PM on April 20, 2006

Comcast blocks competing VOIP users.

Not true, I have Comcast's 8mbps cable modem and use Vonage with no issues.

As for Comcast TV, I was forced to switch from the DirecTivo service to digital cable and their branded DVR. Horrible, horrible problems. It has been replaced 7 times, the last because it was turned off accidentally and according to the service rep, if you turn off the DVR and it tries to record a scheduled recording the software freaks out permanently. All I know is that it was screwed up.
posted by karmaville at 5:45 PM on April 20, 2006

I am not a big Comcast fan, but the service around here certainly has some good points. I am in downtown Kirkland

The cable modem has been killer, the rates they advertise are not a lie -- I regularly get 7+Mbit downloads (700K/sec), latency for game servers has been good (plenty of sub 70ms servers), and VPN with work is fantastic.

The DVR (Motorola 6412 w/M$TV) they offer does have some warts (as karmaville mentions), but also has some big benefits:

- you can record two HDs at the same time.

- It does work most of the time, and it has been getting better lately. Also, you will have multiple retail options thanks to cablecard. (superior, hopefully)

- Many areas around here they have recently added a pure digital lineup, so all the analog channels are simulcast in digital. With this change, the overall picture quality is as good or better than DirecTV.

- ALL the local HD networks are available, without an antenna.
posted by SpookyFish at 9:22 PM on April 20, 2006

Direct TV is owned by Rupert Murdoch. The profits are used to subsidize Fox News. You can probably find better uses for your money.
posted by faceonmars at 12:05 AM on April 21, 2006

For Fox News to need subsidizing, it would have to be unprofitable. Fox News made like $250 million in 2005.

In other words, uh, no.
posted by kindall at 12:32 AM on April 21, 2006

A link to the Slashdot discussion of Comcast blocking Vonage. I gather that it is not occuring in all areas, but based on my personal experience, it is deliberate. In my parent's case, they switched from dial-up where skype was working fine %100, to broadband cable with Skype %100 down. Their bandwidth for other applications was up to expected parameters.
posted by Manjusri at 1:07 AM on April 27, 2006

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