Best option for internet provider in San Francisco?
December 7, 2007 10:51 AM   Subscribe

What's the best option for high-speed internet access in San Francisco? (Moving from Castro to Potrero Hill, would like to ditch Comcast if there's a good alternative.)

Apologies if this has been covered somewhere-- I googled around but there's too many hits to make sense of. Basically I want to know what people recommend for fast reliable internet service in San Francisco. We've been using Comcast (cable modem) but I don't like the company and don't need cable TV, just internet. I'm not entirely averse to staying with Comcast but I'd like to know the alternatives. Is DSL comparably fast?

I'm running a wireless network through a Belkin Pre-N router, don't know if that matters.
posted by jcruelty to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: PS I see this thread but it's a year old so may not have up to date info. For instance I want to be able to use torrents, and it sounds like Comcast is doing some dodgy stuff in that regard-- on the other hand I'm on Comcast now and haven't any problems using torrents, so maybe that's not a big deal. FIOS? What the heck is that? The problem is that everything changes so fast. Anyway, recommendations appreciated!
posted by jcruelty at 10:57 AM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: Oh and also, we don't have a residential phone line at the moment and I wasn't planning to get one at the new place either.
posted by jcruelty at 10:59 AM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: Oh and finally, I work from home sometimes and I use VPN a lot. (Another thing where I'm not sure if it matters.)
posted by jcruelty at 11:04 AM on December 7, 2007

Putting aside package deals with other services, for high speed internet only, I'm pretty sure the cheapest is ATT (which gobbled up SBC Yahoo). You'll need to have a land line, but even with that it's the cheapest (last I researched).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:16 AM on December 7, 2007

DSL isn't generally faster (though maybe it's better now), but if you do go with DSL, I recommend getting it thru Sonic. They are a ISP from way back, are a touch pricier than ATT/SBC, but you get actual services with them -- shell accounts, extra emails, web space, you can get static IPs, etc. If you call up with a problem, an actual person in Santa Rosa (where their offices are) answers the phone (and the automated phone shit is very minimal). If there is an outage, they are very good about keeping you informed. I recently disconnected my DSL with them (moved to Potrero Hill too and my new roommates already had internet service), but I am keeping my dialup account for the other stuff.
posted by R343L at 11:25 AM on December 7, 2007

Speakeasy offers naked DSL - DSL without landline phone service. (You do still need the wiring and jacks from the telco.) Their product is called OneLink. They also offer VoIP.

I have the regular shared-line-DSL from them and have been happy for several years. It's not the cheapest - $40 for a package that might be $20 from ATT/SBC/Yahoo - but their uptime and customer service beats ATT's with a stick. They did just get bought out by Best Buy, but I haven't noticed any changes in service or support.
posted by expialidocious at 11:32 AM on December 7, 2007

Just to be clear, all DSL providers cross the telephone companies network. Only Covad currently owns it's own DSLAM's, and generally in most areas ADSL is via the telco's facilities handing off to your service providers layer 3 gateway.

The cheapest way to get DSL I have found where "naked" dsl (plain old copper/no phone service) is not offered is to pay for a basic rate metered telephone line so you are issued a telephone number by the phone company (5-8 bucks/month) and select your ISP for the DSL service.

I use DSL extreme for my service, generally they have been ok.
posted by iamabot at 11:40 AM on December 7, 2007

I use DSL from SBC Yahoo/ATT and it's been fine.
posted by jasper411 at 11:46 AM on December 7, 2007

2nding Sonic. I have a $7/mo basic rate phone line from AT&T that I only have so I can have the DSL service; this turned out to be cheaper than the extra I'd have to pay through Speakeasy for 'naked' DSL. I have their 6M/768k service and have been extremely pleased. I'm still at the 1 year promo rate of $32.95, which will go up to $59.95, which is a bit pricey. These rates are the same as AT&T's. Sonic's tech support is fantastic. When my home Linux box got pwned and became a launching point for script kiddie attacks, I got a friendly phone call from Sonic to let me know what was up.
posted by zsazsa at 11:47 AM on December 7, 2007

Seconding Sonic DSL. FIOS or any kind of home fiber is not available here yet, so your choices are cable vs. DSL and national vs. local. Sonic has an RSS feed for network status as well as it's own sonic.* Usenet hierarchy.

I think I'm paying ~$60/mo for 1.5/384, and the 384kb/s upstream is both higher than what you can get with cable (IIRC), and helpful for torrenting.
posted by rhizome at 11:50 AM on December 7, 2007

Best answer: Raw Internet is 56.95 with Comcast for 6/384 Comparable price it seems to Sonic and 4 times faster on the download (same speed on the upstream as rhizome)

I live in Potrero, have Comcast and have rarely had an issue I love it.

I'm also believe that cable modems are generally always a better deal than DSL.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Astound is the alternative to Comcast on the Hill, and offers Internet without TV over cable at 10/768 for the same price rhizome is paying for Sonic's 1.5/384.
posted by jjg at 12:25 PM on December 7, 2007

rhizome, their non-promo rate for 1.5/384 is $29.95. If you're paying ~$60 you should be getting the 3.0/512 or 6.0/768 service.
posted by zsazsa at 12:27 PM on December 7, 2007

I'm on AT&T DSL, 6Mbit down, 1Mbit up -- and yes, I really do get extremely close to those speeds reliably. $34.99 a month. It's called their Elite DSL package. I've been happy with it. I use torrents and make extensive use of OpenVPN. No problems with either.

I have mixed feelings about AT&T and surveillance, but I hold my nose and turn on my VPN, rather than paying a lot more for a connection that's still going to cross AT&T copper/fiber at some point.
posted by toxic at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2007

Adding more info about Naked DSL: At&T offers it, but it's something they're not keen on promoting—if I recall correctly, they were forced to provide this by the FCC when they acquired Bell South (or some other telecom).

I can't vouch for the service, but the price is attractive ($23.99).
posted by Weebot at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2007

If you go DSL, is awesome. Really nice to have a local ISP with knowledgable tech people who answer the phone. I can say things like "I can't ping your router; I think my link is down" and they don't tell me to reinstall Windows.
posted by Nelson at 3:41 PM on December 7, 2007

Seconding Speakeasy. Yes, it is $40/month but it's been worth it for me.
posted by quadog at 3:50 PM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all for the help. I didn't mark a best answer cos I have no fricking clue which is the best answer. As a data point though, I ended up choosing Astound (just the 'power user' package which gives 10 down/786 up.) They're coming to set up this Saturday-- we'll see how it goes.
posted by jcruelty at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2007

Response by poster: Update: Astound doesn't support my street in SF. Called Sonic but the thought of having to get a regular phone line and then do DSL put me off. So, I swallowed my pride and went with Comcast. I wish there was a more clearcut alternative, but what can ya do.
posted by jcruelty at 3:30 PM on December 10, 2007

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