Comcast, Qwest, retry, fail?
April 12, 2007 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Help me decide on who comes out to install my TV/DVR/Internet/telephone communications stuff at the new apartment here in Seattle.

We're moving a little further into the city (in Seattle), and for the first time I have choices beyond the Comcast packages I've had (because I am finally inside the standard DSL radius). But all this telecom stuff is confusing me.

Right now we have:
TV: Comcast Digital Cable (a "basic" package, no movie channels)
Telephone: Qwest (+ Sprint for long-distance)
Internet: Comcast

Together, we're paying about $200/month for all of this. And that just feels a little pricey.

Now, I have three options before me.

1. Go with Qwest's package, which would mean DSL, long distance through them, and DirectTV. Total cost minus tax would be about $110/month (with tax, maybe $140/month?). The advantages are the savings and that we already have a dish on the side of the new place. The disadvantages would be being beholden to Qwest for everything, we'd probably be stuck with a DirecTV DVR instead of our beloved TiVo, we'll lose CBC (which is really nice for Olympics and Hockey Night In Canada), and all the usual problems associated with DSL and satellite TV.

2. Go with Comcast's "triple" package -- cable, VoIP, Internet. That's $99/month minus tax and some possible additional charges. The advantage is it's cheaper than what we have now, and the TiVo is still useful. The disadvantage is VoIP and it needing electrical power to run -- in the event of a longer power cut, I'll be SOL for phone. Also, I'll be beholden to Comcast.

3. Don't change anything. Stick with what we have. The advantage is same ol' same ol', no changing e-mail addresses or reprogramming anything. The disadvantage is that I'm still paying $200/month.

I've read through other AskMe questions tagged with Qwest or Comcast or such. I've gone through everything online I could Google. And at the end of it all, I'm still confused and locked up. And I really need to decide tomorrow so I can make appointments for late next week. What should I do?

Help me AskMe. You're my only hope.
posted by dw to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
You can still get DirecTivo boxes which are DirectTV satellite receivers with TiVo DVR software interface. These cannot use some of the extended TiVo features like the Home Media Option.
posted by dendrite at 5:07 PM on April 12, 2007

Also, perhaps you should check into Verizon's FiOS, which is a Fiber Optic cable to your premises. I've heard it get pretty good reviews for broadband speeds.

Having said all of the above, I don't think your "beholden to " criteria is relevant. No matter what you do, you will be at the mercy of a massive corporate customer service department that is rife with inept telephone support personnel. Also, being SOL with a long power cut is also not relevant because you can't expect most electronic equipment to perform in such a circumstance. The only thing you could do to mitigate that situation would be sure to make sure you have a cell phone and have your VOIP autoforward to that number in the event of adapter failure. I suppose that would rule out DSL however.

Good luck with your choice.

posted by dendrite at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2007

Whatever you do stay away from the Comcast DVR, it's as buggy as all getout, slow to respond and overall one of the most frustrating pieces of electronics I've ever used.

Keep the Tivo, upgrade to a Series 3 if you need the dual HD tuners.
posted by mikw at 5:34 PM on April 12, 2007

I'm also in Seattle, I have Qwest for phone and DSL and Comcast Digital for cable and DVR. I've been thinking about similar consolidations but so far I've kept things separate.

I don't have any experience with DirecTV but if there are channels that you'll miss from cable, then I think that's a pretty compelling reason not to switch. However, the Comcast DVR box is often slow and is generally not a very friendly UI compared to Tivo. If the interface of Tivo is something you'd miss, then definitely stick with that. I'm assuming that both scenarios would mean sticking with Tivo unless you really don't care enough about the interface/usability to swallow the extra expense.

And you probably know this, but the $99 Comcast triple-play is only the price for one year, after that it goes up to about $140 plus taxes, regulation fees, etc. Even so, it looks like switching to Comcast requires you to give up less -- you're not only trading the Qwest phone service for VoIP, you're also losing your monthly long distance bill.

The power outage issue meaning losing your phone is valid, but if you've got neighbors and/or a cellphone, I think you'll be fine.

One more data point: I'm not sure what you mean by all the "usual problems," but I have not had any issues at all with my Qwest DSL (I am not using their modem/router). Cable is obviously faster, but I chose cheap over fast. I signed on for a good promotional rate for one year and got a nice discount following that year, which was better than similar offers I saw from Comcast. I did recently move to Magnolia, though, and had to downgrade from 3Mb to 1.5Mb connection (each of which is the fastest that they were able to provide in the relevant area).
posted by camcgee at 7:15 PM on April 12, 2007

(As a caveat, I work for Comcast.)

Actually, Comcast Digital Voice has a (battery) backup power supply with 8 hours of standby time and 4 hours of talk time, and it comes with room for an additional battery. So you would not quite be SOL.

Also, it's not quite the same as say, Vonage, where you need internet to use the phone.

Comcast Digital Voice calls are actually transmitted over a separate private network. (Vonage, et al., are over the public network.)

camcgee: CDV includes unlimited nationwide calls including calls to Canada. Isn't losing the long distance bill a good thing?

About Triple Play:
I do not understand what you mean by possible additional charges. There are taxes and fees, but unless you are ordering PPV or ON Demand, your monthly bill shouldn't fluctuate.

If you have any other questions about Comcast services, I can try my best to answer them.
posted by Zarya at 8:16 PM on April 12, 2007

CDV includes unlimited nationwide calls including calls to Canada. Isn't losing the long distance bill a good thing?

Sorry if I wasn't being clear, but I did mean that it was a good thing, yes.
posted by camcgee at 8:30 PM on April 12, 2007

Sorry if I wasn't being clear, but I did mean that it was a good thing, yes.

Actually, the fault is mine. On re-read, it does come out that way. I apologize.
posted by Zarya at 8:42 PM on April 12, 2007

Thanks all. I've decided to stick with option 3 (stick with what I've got) while I think through my options.
posted by dw at 2:58 PM on April 13, 2007

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