May 14, 2008 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Am I really stuck with Comcast as my only cable internet provider in Portland OR?

I'm moving to Portland OR (97214) - and I need my internets!

I'm used to our 3 down, 1 up speed from TimeWarner for ~$50/mo. And I've been burned by bad DSL too many times - so I'm aiming for cable.

There are previous questions in AskMe from 2006 that make it sound like Comcast had a total lock on the cable internet market out there.

Is this still the case? Has anything changed in the last few years? Is there some stellar 3rd cable-based option I'm not aware of?
posted by bhance to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
Best answer: You are pretty much stuck with Comcast in Portland. FiOs (by Verizon) is available in Beaverton and some suburbs and is coming (albeit slowly) to Portland. At one point (a few years ago) there was a huge effort to provide citywide wireless service (MetroFi) but that effort is rumored to be in the process of being dismantled and abandoned. So yeah, as far as I know you're pretty much stuck with Comcast...unless you get a high speed commercial line put in to your home office but that might get expensive.
posted by Lucas822 at 8:29 AM on May 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks Lucas - I have a follow-up question as I sit here and dig through their online sales: They seriously want to charge me a onetime $149.99 to connect multiple computers on one line?

I take it I can just wait until their tech leaves and plug in my WRT54G and be good to go (?) - or do they MAC filter or something more invasive?
posted by bhance at 8:36 AM on May 14, 2008

Qwest seems to have high-speed in that ZIP.
posted by peep at 8:38 AM on May 14, 2008

OK, maybe never mind - WTF, they call it DSL High Speed? Sorry.
posted by peep at 8:40 AM on May 14, 2008

Best answer: Just tell them you have 1 computer, let them hook into that, setup, leave.

Plug in your WRT54G, clone your machines MAC, and you're good to go.

I've had Comcast in Portland for a few years now, just switched to FiOS (Beaverton)
posted by mattdini at 8:42 AM on May 14, 2008

Sorry, but it's true. I hate the monopoly, too, so I make do with 1.5 down .5 up DSL via Spiretech (and Qwest, of course, who have a monopoly on the lines). Horrible web site, I know, but all I care about is uptime, throughput, and the hope that they won't completely shaft me if someone comes a-wavin' a DMCA letter or whatever. They've got all of that.

Welcome to Stumptown. Come to the meetup if you'll be in town by next weekend.
posted by mumkin at 8:43 AM on May 14, 2008

Plug in your WRT54G, clone your machines MAC, and you're good to go.

This is my experience as well. They'll gladly take your money if you ask them to, but they don't seem to care a bit about how you actually divvy up your connection in practice.
posted by cortex at 8:50 AM on May 14, 2008

You don't even need to clone the MAC in my neighborhood.

Pay for the absolute minimum install that they'll let you get away with and then undo everything that they did and hook it up the way you want when they leave.

I'd avoid Qwest (The Spirit of Disservice!) at all costs.
posted by togdon at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Er, yeah. Should have struck the MAC bit from response. Plug in your router, do whatever the hell you like with your boxes, and you're good to go.
posted by cortex at 9:13 AM on May 14, 2008

When I first got Comcast, I had my cable modem and wireless router long before the guy was supposed to come out to hook it up. I did it myself, and then called and canceled the appointment. They dropped fee. They wouldn't let me sign up without making the appointment, but then they let me cancel the appointment. Classic Comcast.
posted by one_bean at 10:36 AM on May 14, 2008

Yup, you're stuck, unless you land in a Verizon serviced neighborhood and can get FIOS.

About the multiple computers... Just have them connect the cable modem and provision it, them connect a cable to one computer to validate the connection is live. Then send the technician on his merry way and connect up your router.

I've never needed to worry about Mac address filtering/cloning, and I've had Comcast service in several Portland/Beaverton locations of the years.

DO NOT let Comcast install any software on any of your computers. You do not need it for anything, and you'll generally regret it if you allow them to load their BS.
posted by terpia at 11:18 AM on May 14, 2008

Response by poster: one_bean: With all the providers before me (cox, timewarner/adelphia) I watched them phone in the MAC address of the cablemodem before the thing would come online. Did yours not have to do this? Or did you just call this in on your own?

terpia: noted, agreed

everybody: major thx
posted by bhance at 11:36 AM on May 14, 2008

They call in the MAC of the cablemodem, but they don't care about your computer (or WRT54G's MAC). If you switch which computer is plugged into your cablemodem, you'll need to powercycle the cablemodem though.

So yeah, just get one machine hooked up, and then swap it with a WRT54G when they're gone.
posted by Laen at 2:28 PM on May 14, 2008

Oh, and welcome to Portland!
posted by Laen at 2:30 PM on May 14, 2008

If you decide to give DSL another try, I'd second Spiretech. They're cool and have great service.
posted by pwb503 at 3:26 PM on May 14, 2008

When I hooked it up myself, I plugged my computer into the cable modem and opened Firefox. I was re-directed automatically to a Comcast website that had me register my account (I think name/address/etc., possibly account number), and I believe I typed in the MAC address from the cable modem as part of the registration process.

I have almost completely blocked this out of my mind, so there's a slight possibility that my account registration packet came in the mail with a CD that I used to get everything set up, but I really don't think so. I'm pretty sure it was just registering the MAC through the website.

But I am 100% positive that I set up my account without having to pay anybody $100 to come out and hook it up for me.
posted by one_bean at 3:40 PM on May 15, 2008

Hmm... now that I think about it, it's possible that they asked me for the MAC address when I called to cancel the technician appointment. Sorry, I really don't remember, but as I said -- totally did it myself.
posted by one_bean at 3:41 PM on May 15, 2008

I live in 97214 (hi neighbor!) and I've had Qwest DSL with Aracnet (now SpiritOne) as the ISP for several years. Every once in a while it goes south, but mostly it works just fine. Aracnet has been a great ISP as well.
posted by turbodog at 1:28 PM on May 17, 2008

Response by poster: Final thread update for the next incoming Portland mefi'er who needs Comcast advice:

- The techs had a pre-ordained username and password during the install process, along with an account number they needed when they also called in the MAC. Methinks the consumer-install days are over.

- They did, indeed, install a bunch of their Comcastic helper software, which I removed.

- Once this was working, I waved them goodbye and broke out the Linksys.

- Plugged the Linksys to the cablemodem, powercycled both, and had instant internets. No MAC cloning needed at all.

Thanks again everybody!
posted by bhance at 3:34 PM on May 27, 2008

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