Monday, August 29, 2011

Blazing Internet For a Reasonable Price

My two year contract with Verizon Internet expired last month. I was paying them $19.99 a month for 1 megabit per second (mbps) download speed, and when the contract expired, I was billed on a month to month basis for 21.99. Last Wednesday afternoon, a door-to-door Charter Communications salesman knocked on my door to ask if I needed cable, phone, or internet service. Normally I would just brush them off and say I don’t need cable because free antenna TV is enough for me and I already have internet service. Since my two year internet agreement expired, I was interested in listening to what Charter had to offer. The guy said he can offer me internet service for 19.99 a month and I asked him how many megabits per second speed, expecting only the same 1 mbps that Verizon offered. To my surprise, he said it would be 12 mbps! I couldn’t believe my ears so I said “are you sure?”, and asked him to repeat it. So what’s the catch? Do I have to pay for monthly modem and router rental fees on top of the 19.99? He said, no catch, I only had to pay an extra 10 dollars for the first month for installation. He also mentioned that it was a back to school promo. I made sure he wrote all that in the work order form. (It bears mentioning that pre-recession, I had 3 mbps service from Verizon for 29.99 a month but that got too expensive for me so I had to downgrade.) We set an appointment for Friday between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the installer to show up. The salesman called me later and said that Friday was full, so we switched it to Saturday morning between 8 to 12 noon.
Come Saturday morning (hmm, wasn’t there a song that started with that line?), I awaited the arrival of the installer while doing my cycling/elliptical/abs workout. I even made it to the shower before he showed up at 11 o’clock. He looked around and asked me where the preinstalled cable wires were. I showed them to him and told him I hadn’t had cable in more than 20 years and those were the only connections I knew. When he tested the wires, there was no power coming out of them so he went outside to look for the cable box. It turns out they had rewired the system and my more than 20 year old connection doesn’t work anymore. He ended up having to drill a hole in my bedroom wall to run a cable from outside, around my bedroom, under the carpet, and into the living room so he could connect the modem/router device. Having finished that at quadruple the time it would normally have taken if my old cable connection still worked, he proceeded to set up my wireless connection. I thanked him very much and apologized for the extra work he had to do. After some instructions from him, I managed to change my wireless network SSID name and password.
One of the first things I did was check the internet speed. It was not quite the advertised speed of 12 mbps but more like 10 mbps. Still blazingly fast compared to the previous 1 mbps. Next I tried downloading a large file while talking on the MagicJack phone. There was nary a drop off in the sound quality. Oh, by the way, that phone call was to Verizon to cancel their service.
That brings me to this question. At that speed, why not share internet service with the neighbors? You can share the password and split the monthly fee. That’s a lot of speed to go around for maybe up to three households. Has anyone heard of such an arrangement or maybe do you yourself share with your neighbors?
I know there are much faster internet services out there but it seems like I got myself a pretty good deal with this arrangement. I hope there will be no surprise extra fees when I get my bill.

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