Suggestions for High-Speed Internet



I currently use AOL Dial-up and have 2 phone lines. The cost of the 2 phone-lines plus dial-up is around $66 per month.

I cannot get DSL in my area. Does anyone have a recommendation of a high speed service that I could use with Broadband AOL that would be close to the $66 that I'm currently paying?
Usually your choices will be dsl, cable internet from the local cable co, or a wireless broadband carrier.

You can go to and they'll give you some idea of what providers are in the area. Caveat: they dont show the major wireless carrier in my area.

DSL is usually less expensive than cable. Dont buy the brouhaha about which is better/worse. They're about the same for the speed quoted, which is usually higher for cable. Only time that high speed comes into play is if you're downloading huge files from a fast supplier. I've had IDSL at 256Kb/s and I"m on 3Mb/s cable now. For browsing and email both were fast and snappy and up all the time.

Your cable company will also probably pull a scam on you where they'll want to charge you $12 more for cable broadband if you dont have cable tv, then offer you basic 20 channel cable tv for $8 or 10. Thats a no brainer for you cost wise, and they get to list you as a cable tv subscriber even if you only got tv to lower your bill. More revenue for them in commercials as they're pitching to more 'eyeballs'. Only problem is that they used to offer the broadband for $12 less than they do now, and only raised the rates to offer this faux "discount" a few years ago.

I had more problems with DSL than with cable. Probably because the cable is more of a shared medium, so if my "cable went down" nobody in the neighborhood was getting signal for tv or cable. Some parts of the network are data specific, but most problems create dozens of complaints phone calls. With DSL its individual media to the wiring closet, and thats where I had problems twice that left me "down" for more than a week at a pop.

Satellite has two problems. Expense and latency. It can be quite a bit more expensive and the pipe turnaround is slow. You ask for a web site...theres a several second delay, then the fire hose turns on and zap, there it is. You ask for a file...several seconds...then blam. Only problem from this is its visibly noticeable and screws up 'real time' services like digital phone, video conferencing, and cooperative games, among other things. Last resort basically.

I'm going to probably move to the local wireless outfit shortly, when I have less on my plate. They're cheaper than cable or dsl for similar speeds. They mount a 10x10x2" box somewhere on the outside of your house, usually on the eaves or chimney, then run a coax cable into the house terminated in a "modem". Advantages for me are good speed for a good price and being able to give the cable company the finger for sticking me with cable tv to get cheap broadband. Disadvantages are potential signal disruption (think of this as cell phone signal quality with the issues associated with that), and requiring a piece of software on each computer that will be connected to the wireless network to make an encrypted "tunnel". So any device that isnt a pc cant be hooked up. I have a couple of tivo's and a kitchen internet appliance. Those wont work with this so I'll need to think up something else for those.

My price structures:

DSL $26.95, not avail because I'm too far away from the CO
IDSL ~$90, 256/128 speed
Cable ~42 with catv, $56 without, 3Mb/1Mb
Wireless $19, 384/128; $29 2Mb/1Mb
Directway sat $100/mo ~500Kb/:confused:

Once you have a non-satellite broadband, you can also use something like packet8 or vonage for unlimited long distance service at a low fixed price and no need for the second line.
How about if we just forget about all this stuff,
trash or sell the TV and computer and read good books
or just get close to nature? I seriously doubt if
we would suffer for the "loss".

John Galt
How about if we just forget about all this stuff,
trash or sell the TV  and computer and read good books
or just get close to nature?  I seriously doubt if
we would suffer for the "loss".

John Galt


If you did this, we would have to live forever without your Puns! - Actually I was going to get rid of my computer, but then I realized I would be without the wisdom of this forum :'(
Yep, the stuff I pick up on this forum more than covers the cost of my internet connection.
ISDN can work well too. It's not blazingly fast like DSL or cable, but it does give you 3X the speed of dial up, and it's instant on so you don't have the annoying delay when dialing in. I used it for a year before we moved and could get DSL at the new place.

ISDN is generally available anywhere regular phone service is. You'll need an ISDN circuit from the phone co, and an ISDN dial up account from any ISP that offers it, and an ISDN modem. Prices vary widely, so shop around if you look into ISDN.
IDSL I mentioned above is built on an ISDN circuit which does go a lot further than dsl. Costs for IDSL tend to be lower than ISDN for no good technical reason, but ISDN circuits tend to be used by businesses rather than people, so they get business rate treatment.

Even though its slow, it does beat the tar out of dialup. But its a hundred bucks where I am and at my old house for service. I'd probably go with directway if those two were my only options.
The best way to save $ on a broadband connection is to share it with your neighbors. We share a cable connection among 3 families. You can buy a good router that works fine for less than $50.
The best way to save $ on a broadband connection is to share it with your neighbors.  We share a cable connection among 3 families.  You can buy a good router that works fine for less than $50.  

How do you physically accomplish this? Run a cable between houses? , wireless? - My wireless router only goes about 50 feet?
However, connection sharing is almost certaintly against your terms of service and the cable / DSL company can cut you off if they catch on.

Of course, if you have a wireless router sharing the connection,and you turn on encryption, they'll never know.
Depending on some conditions, a wireless router can go 300' or more. There are also "booster" access points that "bond" to a primary access point to extend its range. You can also use a directional antenna, either bought or homemade.

Only problem with the homemade ones (aka the "can-tenna" as its made from a large metal food can) is you sure can get a nice directional signal, but you can also wipe out your neighbors signal. I had a moron in my old neighborhood who set himself up with a homemade antenna and I used to pick up his AP from across the street and four houses down. Only problem is I sometimes couldnt get my laptop to train onto MY access point as his signal washed right over mine. I ended up "using" his broadband connection for a while, until he must have noticed and put wep encryption on. So since I couldnt "get" my AP half the time and couldnt use his, I aimed one of my 2.4GHz video signal transmitters out the window at his house for a couple of months. As I expected, the 'cantenna' was no longer in service at that point.

John - whether using wireless or cable connected, depending on your terms of service you may be doing something slightly illegal. Comcast for example doesnt allow sharing of their broadband signal between households. Whether you'd ever be caught is another matter, unless one of your sharee's gets mad at you and blows the whistle.
We run a cat-5 cable and also have wireless access. Standard cat-5 cable works at up to 100 meters. Cat-6 may even handle larger distances.

If you run a cable, you can save $ by buying the raw cable at an electronics store and making the ends yourself. You can get instructions here:

Our 802.11b network has reasonable range, but not full coverage. To extend the range you can use a better antenna, add a range extender, or just hook in another wireless router (this method has performance advantages, and also allows you to extend the range of your wired network.) I noticed that our networks range inproved when I disabled encryption. We still use mac filtering, and don't broadcast the network SSID so we still have some security.

802.11G offers higher bandwidth (connection speed). (This is useful for local networking, overkill or internet access.) The range specs are the same, but it may work better over larger distances given that the bandwidth is higher.Is anyone getting better range out of 802.11G?

I don't think what we are doing is in violation of the service agreement. The DSL providers started allowing (even marketing) connection sharing to break into the market. Then the cable co. changed their terms.

Even if your connection provider prohibits sharing, there is no way for them to tell without physically inspecting your network.

If you share your network you must be careful about securing the individual computers. Take care whenever you configure file sharing (doing this right can be very tricky on Windows XP), and consider using a firewall on each computer.
Thanks for all of the replies!!

Whenever I look at this situation, The dial-up with 2 phones lines at $66 per month, seems to be the cheapest and legal, and simple.

Also my Dial-up speed is not an issue. I have a fast machine and used to have a high speed line at work. Not missing much. The wireless internet was my quest, but I'm not interested in paying much more.
11G *can* give higher throughputs, but often the speed benefits drops off pretty sharply as you move away from the access point. I havent seen that 11g's in general offer any range benefit vs 11b. Its more a difference in manufacturers products than signalling.

I have a 2wire homeportal 100w, a 3com access point and a netgear wireless router. The 2wire was expensive when I bought it a few years back, but I could get a connection off it quite a ways away. The 3com would give me a crap connection just in the next room. The netgear gave me full in house coverage but it wasnt so good out in the yard. All 11b equip. Even the standard external antenna isnt a guarantee, as I saw a few reviews of units with and without the antenna, and some offered no range or speed improvement at all, while others did.

802.11a stuff, on the other hand, can be interesting. Its sort of an orphaned technology, which is both good and bad. The good is its cheap and available from 'overstock' and 'leftover' sorts of places and the bargain bins. It operates on a different frequency from 11b/g (5GHz instead of 2.4), so it wont interfere with or be interfered with by phones, microwave ovens, and so forth. Range can be quite a bit better than 11b/g, but again its dependent on the maker. Speed is the same as 11g's 54Mb/s, but you're more likely to actually get something close to that.
Gotta consider customer "service" too.

I just went four rounds with Time-Warner (Oceanic Cable here on Oahu). I'm ahead on points and I'm declaring a moral victory, but I'm paying through the nose for it. $44.95/mo for cable compared to Verizon's $29.95 DSL doesn't make much sense.

For example, last Nov we had about 12" of rain in 12 hours. It turns out that many cable networks do not work under submergence pressure. Oceanic (what irony) replaced the neighborhood's primary amplifier, then a secondary one, then the one by our house, etc. Service was bouncing up & down for three days before they fixed all the faulty (wet) components.

Last week a similar problem happened on a Friday night at the top of our street. Took three trucks of techs to fix it.

So my cable went out yesterday morning-- just the high-end (Ch 87, where RoadRunner is loaded) was gone but all channels above 45 were fuzzy. I called Oceanic, expecting them to dispatch a truckload of techs with more waterproof replacements. Instead Oceanic treated me like a computer idiot-- "There should be three cables plugged into the back of your modem. Your computer should be turned on. The cable should be connected to the wall, but DO NOT TOUCH it!" This went on for several hours until I was persuaded to return my five-year-old cable modem for a new model ("They just came in Monday!"). When I plugged in the new one, the same problem was still there but Cust Svc said "Sorry, sir, all our techs clock out at 4:30. You shoulda called us earlier."

As the repair tech and I discussed later, most cable repair companies won't move their assets until (1) your cable is completely out, both TV and computer, and (2) more than one person calls in the problem. In my case it was one electrical component in the curbside box at the end of my street. I was the only user on that box, so I was the only guy with a problem. But this problem (if it recurs) won't happen again-- as soon as a channel burps I'm going to declare a total loss and yank all the neighbor's cables out of their connector boxes too.

When the tech detected the open circuit at 875 MHz, he said "Looks like you're got a suckoff!" Once we established that was a technical term, not a sexual offer, he replaced the $5 black box that Customer Service spent $100 of labor in claiming it wasn't broken. But he was happy enough to talk geek in exchange for rewiring the house and adding a high-pass RF amp, so today the signal is just booming in.

Which is a conflict. We've been up solid for 12 hours now, so this morning I'm going to call Oceanic and browbeat them into as much of a refund as I can get. Then I'm going to mention how much retiree time I spend posting on discussion boards, including the new "Oceanic Sucks" board. Then we're shopping Radio Shack for a broadcast TV antenna, Dish or DirecTV for a satellite downlink of the non-local crap, and Verizon for DSL. But RoadRunner is such a nice connection now that I'm gonna miss it-- right up until I get that monthly bill.

Lemme know if anyone is aware of a better deal...
Hi Nords - here on Maui we also have Verizon DSL and Oceanic cable. After having intermittent reliability problems w/ cable, we switched to Verizon DSL. The connection speed is about the same, but the DSL was more reliable. When up, the cable worked fine, but a few times a week it would just stop working, or we'd get very low throughput.

Then we moved and are now sharing a cable connection that is fast and reliable.

We considered getting DSL since it's cheaper, but you must already have a pots phone to get verizon DSL. The min. phone plan is $20/month before taxes, bringing the total cost up to $50. For now, we're trying to do without regular pots phone service.
By the way, the bells have finally realized that the lack of a landline in getting dsl is a problem. I should be, but am not surprised that execs getting paid bazillions of dollars took years to figure this out.

Most of the local phonecos therefore will allow you to buy DSL and get the physical line without dialtone service at no extra charge.

Or check if you qualify for 'lifeline' service, which for me is only $5 a month. The income limits here are something like $22k per household. That only counts w2 income, interest and taxable dividends here, and thats after deductions.

Can you explain to me in Simple terms why I cannot get DSL ? (I think it's because my phone line isn't close to something) -

BTW I spent 25 years in Software Engineering - Is this why I cannot find something cheaper than $66 a month for 2 land lines and AOL? :confused:
DSL signalling is finicky and dependent on the distance from the "co", or central office...the place where all the wires converge that run from the side of your house and your neighbors homes. Its all about line signal loss...the same problem that happens when you run your cable tv too far and the signal gets weak and you need an amplifier.

There are many different types of DSL such as adsl, radsl, idsl. Think of them as AM, FM, shortwave...they all do the same thing, just with different signalling and different ups and downs. Most phone co's choose one method which provides higher speeds over shorter distances.

5000-15000 feet is about as far as you can go with ADSL, the most common. Your potential download/upload speed decline the further you go from the CO. RADSL is a "rate adaptive" version that automatically adjusts the speed to line conditions and can go up to 22000 feet with decent throughput. IDSL is built on older technology and can manage as much as 38000 feet, but it usually only goes to 144Kb/s each way. Still better than dialup but IDSL equipment is expensive and not commonplace so it costs 4x as much on average.

The phone company can "solve" this problem by building a new central office (which is often just a big huge box with no people in it, its not generally an "office") closer to prospective DSL customers. Clearly they'll do this when theres a big subdivision of middle class or better people they think will buy DSL.

They've held off on this for several years due to politics. Legislation to require the local phoneco to rent their physical wires out to competitive companies has been on the dockets for some time, although I think I saw that it was just shot down. The phoneco's didnt want to invest millions building new CO's so companies like covad could come in and pay them five bucks a line per month and reap the other $25 profitable internet business without spending a dime in local infrastructure. Bad news is lower competition, good news is more DSL availability may result.

Its not uncommon for phone runs to go 40,000 feet and more. My fairly new subdivision has me 28,000 feet from the CO...too far for SBC's ADSL implementation. Cable has no such limitations; if you can get tv signal you can get cable internet as long as all the amplifiers in the intermediate stream are bidirectional...some older cable networks just boosted the signal one out to the home...with uploads you need the signal to survive back to the cables 'central office', to the primary signal distribution center known as the "head end".

The irony is that as telephone equipment got better, phone companies frequently consolidated central offices and increased the distance to the average home, only to get hit by broadband networking requirements! Up until a few years ago you could bid on and buy decommissioned at&t central offices...some of them were just a small unmanned shack on a few thousand square feet of land, some were multiple large buildings on several acres. The interesting part is that some of them were in fairly high rent districts near the california coastline. Many allegedly sold off in quiet handshake deals for pennies on the dollar for value.

Fun intrigue and bargaining buying the old missile silos and taking over lighthouses from the government...
There are many many reasons why you may not be able to get DSL.

If you are served directly by a CO, you may be too far away, or on loaded line, or on a pair with bridged tap or stubs, or on ageing or poor quality cable (telephone-type of cable, that is).

If you are served by a Remote Switch or DLC Remote Terminal that homes on the CO, the plugs to directly support DSL may not be available. Or your opco may be unwilling to equip it so, more about that later.

If by chance you are served via old analog N carrier or something like that, there's no hope of DSL until a complete system ripout and replacement.

There are work-arounds for some of these problems, but it is expensive. Economics is the driver. If the "take rate" for the proposed area with upgraded equipment is going to be low, there is little incentive to do the capital acquisition, engineering, place and turnup the equipment. You might be far down the list. New high-income housing subdivisions get the latest equipment, either a remote switch with many options, or a DLC system with fiber back to the serving CO. And Fiber to the pedestal or curb is finally springing up for some dense high-dollar areas.

At least five cables(in the last ten years) run buried alongside the only hwy thru the swamp - but no local cable service - only the old timey phone line which Bell South probably loses money on trying to keep running. Satellite only around here. Even some cell phones suffer gaps in coverage - periodic loss of signal.
You're probably better off. I was a directv subscriber from 1994 until 2002 and couldnt have been happier with the quality of service and the picture. Probably had two losses of signal for a few minutes each due to very heavy rain, thats it.

Dish network was the worst customer experience of my life.

Cable (comcast) is a close second. We get outages and signal drops all the time. Whenever one of these occurs, the wife looks at me and says "honey, go out and adjust the dish" in honor of all the comcast FUD commercials about satellite.
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