High Speed Internet In Chicago?
November 28, 2007 2:14 PM   Subscribe

High speed internet in Chicago?

I'm moving on the 1st, and my new apartment building is not wired up for RCN. I loathe Comcast, and so I am looking for alternatives to provide me with high speed internet access in my new place. Anybody have any recommendations? How is AT&T's DSL? How is Speakeasy nowadays? Any other options I'm not even aware of?
posted by AceRock to Technology (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There's nothing wrong with AT&T's DSL. Its cheap and it works. Your distance from the CO will determine how much speed you get. I havent had any problems with it and I live pretty far from the CO.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:19 PM on November 28, 2007

I've used the cheapo AT&T DSL for a while now, and it's worked reasonably well. They seem to have been monkeying with their DNS servers over the past couple weeks, but simply rebooting my modem has reliably fixed that (which is to say, boot up, fail to get DNS. Fail to renew IP lease. Fail to get new DNS address. Reboot modem, instantly grab new DNS address & connection works from that point forward).

Plus moving with it was a total breeze -- they let me specify exactly which day my service would change to the new address, and they were spot-on with the timing, so it would seem that their infrastructure is pretty much fully built-out now.

I'm 1.5meg down, 768 up, if that makes a difference to you.
posted by aramaic at 2:26 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys! Going here gave me this info:
83 visitors on CO CHCGILSU report using DSL here
Summary of Telcos/DCLECs in use:
WorldCom (1 person)
unknown (12 people)
MCI (2 people)
Verizon (2 people)
XO Communications (2 people)
InterAccess (3 people)
Covad (27 people)
Ameritech (33 people)
AllTel (1 person)
Anybody have any experience with any of these companies?
posted by AceRock at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2007

I have Speakeasy in Chicago, and it's very nice. I have had one short outage (a couple hours) in the few months that I've had it, but the customer service is excellent and the static IP is great. The less expensive plans are quite slow, however — the cheapest, which I have, is 1.5/384, and seeding a torrent can really kill my connection. There are faster options for more money, of course.
posted by enn at 2:32 PM on November 28, 2007

I hated the AT&T/SBC DSL. It would go down all the time, and the customer service I got from the reps and techs was terrible.

I've had a great experience with Comcast, internet-wise. Never goes down. Customer service is so-so, but seems to be better than SBC. All of our Comcast problems have been related to the DVR anyway, not the internet.

If you're on the south side, you may be in the Wide Open West service area. They're smaller and friendlier than the bigger cable companies, IMO. Of course I'm probably biased as I have a friend that works there and the impression I have of WOW is all through him.
posted by misskaz at 2:36 PM on November 28, 2007

I second misskaz - I had terrible experiences with AT&T DSL, and had lots of outages that were always "problems with my internal wiring" until I got them to do a line check, and then it turns out that they had messed something up and they had to send someone out and three days later I finally had internet access again. This happened at least three times in the last year. It was also very slow - I technically had 1.5 Mbps down and 768kbps up (the fastest I could get given my distance from the CO, and it cost me $19.99 per month plus the line charges, bringing the total to around $40/month), but the various internet speed test sites said that I had about 400kbps down and the same up. It was dirt-cheap, even though I had to pay for the line as well, but it still wasn't worth it. I switched to Comcast and am much happier paying $62/month for like 10 or 15 Mbps down, with real world downloads speed often greater than half of that, which is pretty good. In other words, my connection is about ten times faster for maybe 150% of the price and better reliability (so far).

Comcast is pretty evil generally, and they are kind of expensive if you don't have the other services through them, but they're certainly a better internet choice that AT&T.

I looked at Speakeasy and found them pretty pricey.
posted by jcwagner at 2:52 PM on November 28, 2007

I pay AT&T $38/month all told (including the cost of the line itself, since I otherwise don't use my landline), for 3M down, 512k up.

I have no complaints - I get the speeds advertised, and it's been reliable (more so, I think, than the AT&T dsl at my parents' house in OH). I don't use the AT&T-provided wireless router, or their email servers - so I can't speak to the quality of those. They also annoyingly block port 25 (SMTP) by default - there is an online form to be unblocked, but it took them around a week to actually do it
posted by kickingtheground at 4:18 PM on November 28, 2007

Another acedote for you. When RCN started offering cable modem service I signed up and got nothing but many many headaches. After more than two service visits and the cable modem replaced three times, I finally told them to get lost. I got comcast, which for the few years I had it was fast and stable. It was also nice that they almost never changed my ip address.

I recently left comcast when I moved because of their pricing schemes. I dont feel paying almost 70 dollars for broadband is justified.

In the end, its a crapshoot. I imagine the biggest determinant here is how well the block you live on is serviced by any of those ISPs and which tech you manage to get on the phone. Or which tech shows up. The idea that so-and-so is terrible for everyone, all the time is really pushing it. The idea that so-and-so is great for everyone all the time is also pushing it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:22 PM on November 28, 2007

I have AT&T/SBC DSL and I agree they have awful customer service. A couple of times they've canceled my account because of dumb mistakes on their end, so I've spent a lot of time on hold. But it's relatively cheap, I guess, and for some reason I'm not ready to give up my land line. I had them remove all extra phone services, even long distance and local long distance, which I had to explain to them like five times.

If you go with them, I'd recommend installing it without their software.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:51 PM on November 28, 2007

You can now get what is known as a "dry loop" through AT&T DSL. This means that you no longer are required to have and pay for basic telephone service.

This makes it hands down the cheapest broadband option in town. I think I pay $23 a month for 1.5 down and 768 up.

I've used DSL in Chicago for over five years now originally through SBC and now via AT&T (who took over SBC.) Over all the service has been up probably 99.5% of the time, with maybe only one or two days of outage years ago. I have moved three times in five years - twice under SBC which was a major hassle resulting in week-long outages and once under AT&T which was a flawless transition from a basic phone line to the dry-loop (I have a mobile phone, don't need or want a land-line.)

The alternative seems to be going with Comcast which is generally much faster, but they saddle you with cable television (I don't own a TV) and you wind up paying an incredible amount per month - $50 to $100 dollars.
posted by wfrgms at 5:31 PM on November 28, 2007

I have had AT&T for five or six years. Moved once. DSL has been down a few times over that time but it was remedied by either unplugging the modem, (I use the 2wire gateway that AT&T sells) or running the gateway set up program again. The few times that I had to call customer service, it went fine.

FYI, Ameritech is AT&T. SBC bought Ameritech before they became AT&T. I first signed up with DSL with Ameritech. For reasons known only to AT&T, Ameritech accounts are still labeled as Ameritech.
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:47 PM on November 28, 2007

Was with Speakeasy. They *are* pricey, but their customer service is phenomenal. I mean any ISP where the tech calls you back just to make sure things are going okay...crazy!

I only switched to RCN because we bought a place and the phone wires must have some weird thing going on with them. It was spotty and we had Covad out several times to try and track down the problem (always arranged by Speakeasy), but they never really did...so I reluctantly switched.

Another point in Speakeasy's favor (if you're getting phone over IP...the web management of your phone number was great. It let you block number, restrict when people could call you, re-route stuff, etc. I loved telling telemarketers. Stop calling me or I'm cutting you off!
posted by Wink Ricketts at 8:05 PM on November 28, 2007

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