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High Speed Internet Connections: Which one should I get , DSL or Cable Modem?

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Many Coral Springs residents have the unique opportunity to connect to the internet via a high speed connection.  The connection speeds are often 12 to 25 times faster than the 56K modems that come with almost every computer.  We have prepared this article to give you some help and advice in choosing one of the services based upon our experiences with both types and with , Bellsouth’s Fast Access DSL., Advanced Cable TV’s  Cable Modem, Telocity’s DSL and MPower’s SDSL.

Cable Vs. DSL

DSL  provides a direct link to the Bellsouth switch, therefore you are not sharing the access with anyone.  DSL uses the same copper wire that your phone line is on.  Both DSL and your phone service can be on the same wire. That means you can talk at the same time as you access the internet. No slowdown in speed.  Since the connection is direct to the switch, you have no degradation of speed during peak time usages.  The only problem in our city with DSL service is that the copper, i.e.: the phone line itself is serviced by Bellsouth.  If the phone lines are down or if Bellsouth’s switch is down, than  Bellsouth,  Telocity and Mpower will also be down. Recently Telocity took over other internet service providers and increased their client base by 3 times. That has created outages in their networking system and left some Coral Springs customers without service for a few days.  I have not experienced these problems.

With a Cable Modem you are connected to the same cable that connects to your TV and you share the cable line with everyone in your neighborhood.  You share the access to the internet. It  can be slower  than DSL.  Advanced Cable Communication provides the cable modem service. They have the internet connection but use other companies to manage their tech support and ISP connection.  Recently their ISP Contractor,  IspChannel went bust and left Coral Springs subscribers scrambling to change their email addresses.  With their new provider, @HOME , service has improved.  However many users have reported trouble reconfiguring their email with the new settings.  Advanced Cable are also using technicians that are contracted to change over subscribers to the new @Home network. It was also reported that some of these technicians are not well knowledgeable and are giving bad advice.

One subscriber wrote that a technician after failing to get the computer to connect to the internet told her that something was wrong with her hard disk and they should get it replaced. She called back the Tech Support people and they quickly realized that the problem was the modem that they had supplied to the customer. They sent someone else over and he quickly got the problem solved. She is now happy with the speed of the connection.

My experience with Bellsouth is not any better. After having found out that Bellsouth had double charge me for the ADSL connection (it slipped by for almost a year) I asked Bellsouth to refund the over charges.  They only refunded 3 out of the 10 months. They claimed that I could only go back 3 months and that it was up to me to make sure that their bill was right. I pointed out that they did not give me the service that they billed me for. Too bad they informed me. So I cancelled my service, including my phone lines, and joined up with the SDSL service provided by MPower. (Email me for more info).  The SDSL service provides the same upload and download speeds with a Fixed IP address, They also use the same line to operate the several lines of my company, This has resulted in a savings of ,more than $225 per month for 4 lines + DSL service!  I was very happy to tell Bellsouth where to put their service and the rip-off they gave me.

Telocity , Advanced Cable Communications, and MPOwer’s SDSL give you a Static IP address. Bellsouth issues you a Dynamic IP address. Without getting to technical, let me explain it to you this way.  Right now, you have an address to you house. The post offices delivers mail to you and all of your friends know where you live. You know where you live. The IP address is similar to that in so far as it assigns your computer to an address on the internet.  Telocity gives you one that is permanent. Bellsouth gives you one that is good for 6 hours. Than it may change it. Every 6 hours. It’s called refreshing the IP address. The problem is your computer must be set up to accept a change to the Windows Registry every 6 hours. Why? The IP address is kept in your registry. Every 6 hours it changes. Every 6 hours your Registry is accessed. Most of the time Bellsouth doesn’t change the address anyway. But should you turn your machine off, then it may give you a new one.  So why is this a problem? Some Win98 computers are setup in a way that doesn’t allow an IP refresh, and that you have to apply a couple of fixes to do it.  Bellsouth will tell you it’s for security that they don’t give you a permanent IP address. However, since they rarely change it anyways, why bother.

Findings:

Telocity :  ADSL fast internet access. Tech Support hard to reach, same as the others..  Static IP address. No Installation charge. Free Modem. Cancelable at any time.  Do it yourself Setup is a breeze. Experiencing similar problems a Bellsouth due to same copper line service connection.  Some people state that When it is Good it is really good. When it is bad it is really bad.

MPower: SDSL fast internet access. Tech support easy to reach. Static IP address. One Time Installation charge. Free Modem. So far no problems with the connection ( weather site has been up and running for days compared to the downtime I experienced on a weekly basis with Bellsouth’s ADSL.

Bellsouth Fast Access: ADSL. Tech Support Hard to reach..  Dynamic IP Address. They charge for the external modem. Problems with setup especially the email. Ripped me off  when overcharged.  Refused to correct mistake.  You will get no satisfaction from their customer support.

Advanced Cable Communications: Cable Modem.  Contracting the management of their accounts through  @Home ISP.  Reported Erratic speeds, but most experiencing good access.  Static IP address. Requires Change to Network information involving Workgroup settings. No information regarding how secure these changes are in Microsoft Windows.  Installation Charge. Setup difficult (needs a techs at your house. be careful as some technicians weak on experience. )

Recommendations: Advanced Cable’s @HOME.   SDSL by MPOWER looks promising but might not be cost effective for residential applications. Great for business when combined with phone service. Telocity has down times due to increased customer base.  Bellsouth is no better, and has no heart for its customers. At least Advanced Cable is has their offices here in Coral Springs. 

As the internet service providers upgrade their equipment and BellSouth finishes their installation of fiber optic cabling in our city  the connection speeds will be limited to the level of service that you pay for.  There is a current movement underway by the City of Coral Springs to actually pay for the installation of an internet backbone giving the city a direct connection to the internet. They will find Advanced Cable Communications in this venture who will in turn lease it from the City.  The other part of the plan calls for the transferring of the lease to the Economic Development Foundation  so that they can become independent from city funding. Either way …we pay for it!

Their are some  great websites  to test your system for internet access speed and “Tweak” your settings.  I use www.dslreports.com  since it is an industry tested site. It has lots of valuable information on it including testing to see if your computer is wide open to hackers. Check it out.

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Howard Melamed

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