I feel for those of you who are still on dial up internet. I do miss the quaint sound of a 56K modem, however. I told someone the other day that I want that for me ringtone. We’ve been on DSL for several years now, and it’s generally been dependable.

Recently I was told that cable internet is faster. I didn’t really believe that, but as I looked into it, I discovered that our local cable company had upgraded their technology significantly since we left their service many moons ago. Several folks warned me that my connection would drag if there were lots of people on cable internet at the same time. I was told that it wasn’t dependable. However, a pastor friend was using cable internet and Skype for his phone on cable internet and assured me he’d had no problems.

So I decided to check into it myself. I called Cablevision and scheduled a hookup. The service guys arrived on the day they said they would and ran a line to where I requested. I chose to buy a cable modem rather than rent one from Cablevision ($5/mo). My cost was $43.73 from Amazon.com.

The only problem I had was my modem arrived on Wednesday, and it took calling repeatedly to Cablevision until Friday to get someone to return my call and tell me how to connect it all up. They had given me no login ID, no nothing. When I called 24-hour tech support (a third party provider), they said that my account showed that I had rented a cable modem. Grrr. That was frustrating.

Finally, however, I got a call back, and got things hooked up. Before I disconnected my DSL, I ran several speed tests using speedtest.net and internetfrog.com. Here are the results:

Then I hooked up the cable modem, configured my wireless router and was prepared to test my connection with it. This was tested using a wired connection, not wireless. Again, I tested several times. The cable guy told me that I would get different speeds at different times, but on average, they would always be faster than DSL. Here are the results of testing over a three-hour time span:

Frankly, I was amazed. Cable was much faster than the DSL connection. My mind was made up. Or so I thought.

I called AT&T to disconnect our DSL service. The rep looked up my account and said that I wasn’t getting the fastest speed they offered. My response was that when we had upgraded our service a year ago, we had opted for the highest speed since Carolyn’s business depends upon a good, high-speed internet connection (and because Sam and I play Xbox Live all the time). He responded that it had increased since then, and that he could offer me guaranteed 6mbs download for $30 per month.

Dilemma. 6mbs per month is still slower than what we’re seeing on average from cable. At times, it’s much slower. However, it’s half of what we’re paying for the cable internet ($49.95 for best package + $10 surcharge since we don’t have cable TV). The AT&T rep also began to explain why cable internet is sooooo bad… less secure, less dependable, more people on the net at a time means slower connections… etc.

That pretty much torqued me off. When a company can offer me twice the speed that I’m getting for the exact same cost as what I’m currently paying, why wouldn’t it tell me? We were totally in the dark about this. That’s rather frustrating. In my mind, the way to keep and make a happy customer is to proactively offer discounts.

“Sir, we did a periodic evaluation of your account. We noticed that you’re currently paying $30/month for an older DSL package. We would love to upgrade you to twice the speed at no extra cost. Would you be OK with that?”

Imagine how you would respond to such courtesy.

But, I guess that’s a dream world.

Anyway, I did grouse a little, at which the rep offered me a free month to try the new DSL speed and see how it compared to cable. I quickly took his offer.

Here are the results of the new, higher-speed DSL package:

That is twice as fast as what we were getting with the previous DSL package. However, it’s dismal compared to the average speeds of cable internet. It’s pretty obvious that AT&T has throttled their internet. The needle at speedtest.com hits a brick wall at 5. Don’t pass go; don’t collect $200. I have never received higher than 5mbs (in spite of supposedly paying for 6mbs). Soooo… therein lies my dilemma.

I now know that I can get much faster net speed through the cable company. Of course, you pay for it.

If you’re looking for better internet speed and are able to receive cable or DSL, I’d recommend cable at this point. We’ve had no down time (of course, it’s only been a week or so). At this point, we’re still trying to make the final decision. Since we will eventually be dropping our home phone and using Vonage or Skype for phone (in addition to our cells), we are really in a win-win situation.

The future for consumer communication choice looks very bright for us all. Now if we can just convince U.S. companies to quit throttling the internet in order to make more $ off of us.

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