Design Con 2015

DSL versus cable: The continuation (and conclusion) of a personal tale

-October 10, 2013

In August of last year, I told you about how AT&T convinced me to keep my "3 Mbps" Pro DSL service as a backup to my "10 Mbps" Suddenlink-provided cable Internet service. I also discussed the broader broadband industry trends that were fueling AT&T's seeming fiscal generosity. I subsequently moved my primary residence from CA to CO, and therefore severed the more expensive Suddenlink cable Internet service, keeping DSL in place for use by my tenants as well as by myself when I periodically visited my CA home.

When the six-month 50%-off promo expired earlier this year, AT&T wasn't willing to renew it (as the customer service support rep I'd previously spoken to had promised would be the case) but instead offered me $7/month off my DSL bill. $28/month is more expensive than the $17.50/month I'd previously been paying, but it's still cheaper than the $35/month normal DSL rate. And it's certainly still cheaper than the $45/month I'd been paying for Suddenlink's cable Internet service. So I didn't grumble too much. At least at the time.

I was back in CA recently, and after being spoiled by my Comcast-served fast broadband connection in CO, found myself rapidly frustrated by the comparatively molasses-slow DSL bandwidth. The actual downstream bandwidth I saw on my "3 Mbps" tier was ~2.5 Mbps; upstream bandwidth (reflective of the "A" i.e. "asymmetrical" in "ADSL") was only ~200 Kbps. And I'd kept the cable modem that Suddenlink had earlier supplied me. So I decided to bite the bullet, spend the extra bucks per month, and reactivate my cable Internet service, this time in conjunction with shutting down DSL.

I got on the phone with Suddenlink customer service on a Saturday afternoon, and was well served in short order. First off, the rep was able to re-activate me over the phone in a matter of seconds. Secondly, I found out that last fall, Suddenlink had (like Comcast ... twice) auto-upgraded customers of its "10 Mbps" service tier to "15 Mbps" speeds at no additional cost. Third, I learned that Suddenlink had also recently dropped the price of this particular cable Internet service tier from $45/month to $35/month, now only $7/month more than I'd been paying for DSL. Fourth, since I'd retained basic cable television service even after having previously terminated cable Internet service, the reactivated TV-plus-Internet bundle would also save me a few extra dollars on my television service, as well.

And last but not least, I happily discovered that Suddenlink was notably understating its "15 Mbps" service tier speeds. Here are the results of three consecutive Speed Test benchmark sessions, in all cases accessing Speakeasy's San Francisco server option:







I'm now getting ~7x the downstream speed and ~8x the upstream bandwidth that I was before with AT&T DSL. All for approximately the incremental monthly price of a single gourmet large Starbucks coffee. Which makes me wonder ... why'd I wait so long?

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