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Time to change my provider?

This past Sunday my son came to me complaining about slow download speeds. He’d run a speed test from is phone and the download and upload speeds were dismal, less than 2Mbps on the wireless. I ran a couple of different speed tests on my computer and confirmed his findings. The first run was 1.38 Mbps download and 1.29 Mbps upload. Running it again returned 2.32 Mbps and 1.26 Mbps.

My current provider is AT&T (Uverse) so I ran their speed test twice with the following results:

  • 10.3 Mbps download / 1.36 Mbps upload / 32 ms latency
  • 4.66 Mbps download / 1.12 Mbps upload / 49 ms latency

The Internet package I have from AT&T is supposed to be giving me download speeds between 6.1 and 12 Mbps and upload speeds between 512 Kpbs and 1.5 Mbps.

I ran the AT&T speed test again this morning and got more satisfactory results – 14.13 Mbps download, 1.99 Mbps upload, and 32 ms latency. That result actually exceeds the advertised speeds for my package. Maybe the performance I saw on Sunday was a fluke.

Sunday’s Internet speeds got me to thinking about going back to the local cable provider for my Internet access. Their basic plan offers download speeds of up to 15 Mbps at a monthly cost that is $10 to $15 less than what I’m paying now for Internet service. AT&T caps my data at 1TB while cable would be unlimited access.

Of course, I’d be losing my landline phone unless I purchased a VoIP device and set up Google Voice using my current phone number. The hardware and the one-time set up fee to do that would be $100 or less but I’d have phone service at no additional cost expect a small annual fee for E911 service. It’s something I should look into.

Overall, I’ve not been particularly impressed with my AT&T setup. Their Residential Gateway (RG) is proprietary and needs to be rebooted frequently. I had to turn off the WiFi on it because it would drop the wireless signal and it was only 801.11G. (I used my old Linksys WRT54G router to provide WiFi and later I installed a D-Link WAP)

Going back to cable I’d need to lease or buy a cable modem. My old Linksys router (with WiFi disabled) would fill in for the RG. About the only configuration change I’d have to make with my network settings would be to change the default gateway address since the AT&T RG and the Linksys use dffferent gateway addresses.

For now, I’m going to monitor the situation and try to put aside some money for possible hardware expenditures. Moving to back to cable seems like it would be more cost effective with the added benefit of non-proprietary equipment.


4 Responses

  1. I’m still leaning toward switching from Uverse (VDSL2 ) to cable after the first of the year. It makes sense economically. I”m currently paying $92 and change every month for Internet and phone. That breaks down to $52 for Internet, $7.51 in fees for the Residential Gateway, and the rest for phone service. My local cable provider’s lowest tier for Internet access is faster and less expensive than what I’m getting from AT&T now, even after the new customer discount expires.

    I won’t get land-line phone service from cable but I can inexpensively set up VoIP. After the initial expenses for a VoIP device and transferring my current phone number to Google Voice, I’d essentially have free phone service. I could incur a small monthly fee for 911 service (at my option) and I’m not sure how long distance would work but I can use my mobile phone for those. Or I could dispense with the land-line altogether. The vast majority of the calls I get on that number are telemarketers and solicitors. On the other hand, it’s convenient to have a number for junk calls. It’s like having an email address for spam.

    I’d have to purchase a cable modem which would be preferable to leasing one from the cable provider and I already have a router. The router is an older Linksys WRT54G router which should fit my needs rather well. I’ll upgrade the firmware and disable the wireless as I already have a Wireless-N access point up and running. The only changes I’d have to make to my network would be to change the default gateway and DNS settings on a few devices.

    I’ve found AT&T’s proprietary Residential Gateway to be unreliable. It “reboots” itself at random intervals and I need to do a hard reboot at least weekly. I had to turn off the wireless on it long ago because it would randomly drop out (and it was only G anyway). There are also several switch ports on the back that don’t provide for solid connections with Ethernet cables so they are essentially unusable. Fortunately, I have a 48-port Cisco switch.

    Changing Internet providers will not affect my television since I’m using DirectTV (owned by AT&T). I’ll keep that for the international programming my wife watches. No other provider offers the same package.

  2. I’ve been looking into cable modems. After some research, I’ve settled on a Motorola MB7420 cable modem which I can get for about $90 from several sources. Amazon has the OBi200 VoIP box for just under $50 and it fully supports Google voice.

    Although the modem supports gigabit Ethernet, I’ll be using my Linksys WRT54G router (WiFi disabled) and my Cisco switch. I could get faster speeds but upgrading my router and switch are not feasible for the foreseeable future.

    I can probably order the modem with in-store pickup. I can do the VoIP once I’ve made the conversion. I expect to be on AT&T for one more billing cycle. It’s probably wise to port my current number while I still have it.

    I”m thinking that I’ll go with Time Warner’s Turbo Internet package (up to 20Mbps). The first year would be $45 a month and ever after that it will still be less costly than what I’m currently paying AT&T for Internet and phone.

  3. I’ve committed myself to the change. I purchased a Motorola MB7420 cable modem today and plan to call Time-Warner tomorrow. I hooked up the router and reconfigured it, turning off the wireless (won’t be needed) and switching it back to gateway mode. I may need to change the default gateway setting on some devices.

    It looks as though porting my current land-line number will be kind of involved so I’ll just obtain a number from Google Voice, hopefully something close.

    I’m hoping I can explain to the cable folks that I’ve had cable before so there’s already a demarc outside the house with a cable going from it to a wall jack inside the house. I’d rather use that than have them put another hole in my wall. If they could do something about the cable running to from the pole to the house, I’d greatly appreciate that.

  4. I’m scheduled to have the cable “installed” tomorrow afternoon. I hope the tech will use the existing cable and wall plate. I have the modem and the router in place and ready. I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to use the Linux PC on the rack there.

    The AT&T Residential Gateway did a random reoboot today. Sometimes the reboot doesn’t work and I have to unplug it and plug it back in. Such was the case today.

    I’ve also been cleaning up my Network Info spreadsheet.

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