Broadbandfilter: How can I get internet setup without a current phone number (in SF)?
July 18, 2006 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Gah! Broadbandfilter! Moving to a new apartment next week (in SF). What broadband provider, and how do I search for it without a current phone number? (Cable vs. DSL vs. FIOS vs. Wireless?)

Cable is Comcast obviously; DSL looks like it can be from any number of providers, but I need a phone line first to verify. And then there's Verizon FIOS and Sprint or Verizon Wireless available as well. Need service earlier than Google rolls out its free product in SF.

Any experience with FIOS or Wireless? Good, bad?
I used a nearby restaurant's phone number to checkout availability of DSL in the area, and it looks like I'm close enough to a CO to get it. Anyone know the cheapest phone line I can get--or "naked DSL" without a phoneline--or a cheap DSL + phone line package? (Have Cingular wireless, could I do their "triple package" thing?)

Any advice, especially SF-specific, would be greatly appreciated. We're students, so we'd like to stick to the ~$40 per month range. Thanks!
posted by gramcracker to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
I recently switched to FIOS (of the 15Mbps variety) from Comcast cable. Speedwise, I don't notice that much difference-- with most activities the bottleneck isn't bandwidth. But it is cheaper than cable internet here (outside Boston).
posted by justkevin at 6:16 AM on July 18, 2006

Do you need either of these things:

1) a landline phone
2) cable television


If you don't need either, "naked" DSL may be best.

If you only need cable TV, get a cable modem.

If you only need a landline phone, get DSL.

If you need both, get whichever is cheapest.
posted by k8t at 6:34 AM on July 18, 2006

Oh, and in general, setting up a router with DSL takes about 5 additional minutes of work, but does require someone understanding a bit about configuring a router. A cable modem, in general, doesn't require any special router configuration.
posted by k8t at 6:39 AM on July 18, 2006

I switched to FIOS with a 20mbs download and 5mbs upload. (Could have gotten 30 or even 40 and a higher upload.) I notice that there is consistentcy with my speeds. Whereas before with cable, at times it would slow down, I assume based on my neighbors usage, FIOS is very steady so in the late afternoons and at night I am still good to go. The price is right too. About same as cable access.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:46 AM on July 18, 2006

I have a friend with FIOS... he says it is AMAZING. If you can, get it.
posted by Malor at 6:57 AM on July 18, 2006

Verizon can do naked DSL for NYC; maybe your SFO phone company can do the same? (They call it "dry loop," the prudes.) Call them up and say you're willing to sign up for DSL but you have no use for a phone line. You can't rely on their web sites for good info.

But if you intend to use bittorrent, or do anything out of the ordinary with your connection, hang up once they say "Yes, we can hook you up." Indie ISPs are better, though more expensive. Only a minority of them can do dry loop, but I was able to find one (aceDSL) through DSLreports and am happy as a clam. Good luck!
posted by Doctor Barnett at 7:47 AM on July 18, 2006

Many DSL providers can do it "naked" (with no phone number), but often the person you talk to won't be aware of this option because it's rarely used. I have naked DSL through Qwest, and I would have believed it wasn't possible if I didn't know someone who already had it. The phone rep continued to explain to me that I needed a phone number, and I continued to explain to her that I didn't need a phone number. After several minutes of that, she found the option on her screen to do it without a phone number. So beware of that.
posted by scottreynen at 8:44 AM on July 18, 2006

I got a special offer for Comcast with reduced cable plus internet for three months. After that point it was so expensive that I called to ask them to downgrade my cable, and they said they could "bundle" the services and knock $30 off my monthly bill. Why on earth they didn't automatically do so, given that I ordered the two services together, I don't know, but that's something to be aware of if you go with cable tv and cable internet.
posted by occhiblu at 9:06 AM on July 18, 2006

Yeah, FiOS is really nice. At times I suspect that it's maxing out the real-world bandwidth of my 802.11G.
posted by NortonDC at 9:31 AM on July 18, 2006

If you go DSL, look into DSL extreme. I have a friend who has been very very happy with them. If you want to pay a little more, speakeasy is also very good.
posted by fishfucker at 9:44 AM on July 18, 2006

You're likely not going to get "naked" DSL in San Francisco for $40/mo. Not through SBC anyway. Speakeasy/Covad offers it, but it's more than $40/mo.

I don't think Verizon's FiOS is available in San Francisco. If it is, it's very hard to find information on it. I punched in several perfectly valid San Francisco phone numbers & addresses and it (verizon's web site) was unable to give me any results.
posted by drstein at 10:30 AM on July 18, 2006

I live in San Francisco. I recommend Comcast cable, despite me not (yet) having used it. Why? Because it's a new offering and so they're very competitive at the moment. I just ordered it Friday and was impressed with their service and price.

I'm currently a SBC DSL customer. It's OK, but I seem to have a speed or connection problem every 3 months that takes 12-72 hours to sort out each time. They still cap bandwidth at 1.5/256. They recently switched to PPPoE which is sucky.

If you have to go with DSL, consider instead of buying from SBC yourself. They're a small company highly recommended by many people who use them.

I do not believe FiOS is available yet in SF but I'd love to be wrong about that.
posted by Nelson at 11:00 AM on July 18, 2006

I'm not local to SF, but I figured BroadbandReports was worth a mention. They helped me track down all the available providers when I moved last year. May be too much or too little data for your purposes.
posted by Eideteker at 11:54 AM on July 18, 2006

If you go DSL, look into DSL extreme. I have a friend who has been very very happy with them. posted by fishfucker

I've been with DSLextreme and (like most of their customers) am very happy with them. Their GM answers questions and deals with problems in their forum at Broadbandreports. I don't know of another provider that even comes close to their level of customer service and satisfaction.
posted by buggzzee23 at 12:30 PM on July 18, 2006

I meant to say I've been wiith DSLextreme for over 2 years.
posted by buggzzee23 at 12:31 PM on July 18, 2006

Yep. Gotta say, that Comcast cable has been pretty good. $55/mo, 8mbit down and 768kbps up. very very few problems in the years that I've had the service. If there's some reason that you absolutely *must* have DSL, then I also second the recommendations for

Otherwise, go for the cable modem. I think their 6mbit/384 package is only about $45/mo, and they frequently run that 19.99/mo for the first 6 months promotion.
posted by drstein at 1:48 PM on July 18, 2006

Speakeasy or, if you can get em. Better support, better equipment, and less excuses than ATT. Comcast is ok, but I don't live in SF. If all you can get is either the telco (ATT) or the CableCo (Comcast), i'd go Comcast.
posted by richter_x at 5:44 PM on July 18, 2006

I too have had great experiences with DSL Extreme. Easy to get their tech support, and always very helpful, reasonable prices, no other troubles.
posted by YoungAmerican at 6:50 PM on July 18, 2006

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